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Vision impaired KU student was told that she could never be an artist

By Karan Ahluwalia Nov 23, 2017
Dominika Jesiolowska with her helper dog, Bobby. Photo: Karan Ahluwalia

A KU fine arts student born with a rare condition that impairs her vision was told she could never be an artist.

Dominika Jesiolowska, 21, has a condition called toxoplasmosis, a parasitic disease that can cause vision impairment, due to which she only has about 16 per cent vision.

“I was told that I can’t be an artist, people said I will not achieve anything and my mum will take care of me for the rest of my life, but so far I am proving them wrong,” said Jesiolowska.

Jesiolowska moved to Kingston from her native country Poland two years ago and lives at Middle Mill, the university halls with her helper dog, Bobby.

She mentioned that due to Bobby she attracts a lot of students at halls and at university, who often want to come and play with him.

“The students always come and play with him when they have the time, at least 10 people per day come and give him love. Everyone always stops and say how cute or how handsome he is and want to stroke him,” she said.

While she appreciates how friendly and accepting people in Kingston have been she admitted that the attention gets annoying especially when people stop her to talk about her dog.

She said that often the people she interacts with have generally not heard of her rare condition and thus would like to raise awareness.

“You can only get the condition from a cat when a woman is pregnant. When my mum had me she got it when she came in contact with an ill cat and he must have scratched her. Then she passed it onto me and now my eyesight is so bad I can only see 2 meters, a normal person can see 60 meters I can only see about 16 per cent of what that is,” Jesiolowska said.

She had to go through an extensive process to get her accommodation sorted as she had to correspond with the disability team in Kingston to get a room that could accommodate her and Bobby.

When she first came to Kingston in 2016 to start her foundation year she found it a big adjustment to settle here and constantly felt homesick.

But with time Kingston has become home for Jesiolowska, everyone from her faculty and the people she lives with at the halls have been nice and have offered support.

“Kingston has the most to offer, I know how everything works now and I enjoy studying here,” she said.

Jesiolowska said that she uses simple art such as painting and sculptures as a way to express herself, as with painting there are no rules and she can create something new.

“Sometimes my vision does bother me because sometimes people judge me and that is a real hindrance. But with art no one will look down on you,” she said.

For Jesiolowska making art is her way of breaking stereotypes as she believes that people always have a notion that disabled people cannot in fact make art.

While she enjoys making different kind of art using various techniques, she prefers to push herself by doing wood carvings and using the machines at the 3D workshops that she often requires assistance with due to the intricate details.

“My future plans are to get a degree in teaching called qualified teacher status. I would love to be a teacher one day and teach art,” she said.

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