Art Exhibit Aims to Raise Awareness for Genetic Disorder

NORFOLK — There’s no specific look to the genetic disorder Neurofibromatosis, but artist Rachel Mindrup is trying to capture the essence of the condition.

“I think there’s irony in that there’s no actual face to the disorder and I’m doing portraits,” MIndrup said.

The Creighton University art professor started doing portraits of people with the disorder commonly called NF in 2010. Her works gained popularity on Facebook and grew into an exhibit that debuted at the Norfolk Arts Center on Thursday night.

Mindrup says NF manifests itself differently in each person. It can cause severe disfigurement or just cause internal tumors. It’s relatively common, with one in 3,000 Americans suffering from the disorder, but few seem to know about it.

Mindrup discovered it when her son Henry was diagnosed.

“I was in denial for many years just hoping nobody would notice,” Mindrup said. “Or maybe I was just hoping that he could just sort of live his life without any of the manifestations but that was not the case.”

Eventually, she found the portraits as an outlet… with two of the most prominent ones featuring 13-year-old Henry.

She’s also used the exhibit to raise money for the Children’s Tumor Foundation.

“I really want a cure for NF,” Mindrup said. “So the more I paint and the more I share these stories and the more people end up donating, it’s this nice little cyclical experience.”

More information can be found at the exhibits Facebook page, Many Faces of NF. The show lasts until February 22nd at the Norfolk Arts Center.

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