GILLIAN GENSER POISONED WITH HEAVY METALS FROM ART MATERIALS
I love art. But I’d only ever heard a little about Gillian Genser. She’s a sculptor from Toronto, Canada who has been making art with mussel shells since 1991. But she recently learned that she is severely ill. Mussel shells are filled with heavy metals. That means the bad, poisonous, kind. So grinding the shells released the heavy metals into her body and poisoned her severely. Natural is not always better. We all have to remember to take precautions where we can. But Genser was so happily focused on her work it never occurred to her it was a danger.
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TORONTO SCULPTOR SLOWLY, THOROUGHLY POISONED BY MUSSEL SHELLS
At first she sold small sculptures made of eggshells. But then she moved on to larger pieces she modeled from human anatomy. She used bones, coral and dried plants. According to Genser, her studio was alive with dead things. But in 1998 she finished a portrait ofLilith, the first woman in Jewish folklore, from eggshells. So then she started working on Adam and used blue mussel shells from Canada’s Atlantic. She’d buy them in bulk from Toronto’s Chinatown, choosing the shells and shapes she needed. But she spend as many as 12 hours a day grinding and fitting these shells. So after a few months, she started to feel really sick. She was always feeling agitated. There were constant headaches and she vomited several times a day.
DOCTORS KEPT ASKING HER IF SHE WORKED WITH ANYTHING TOXIC
So she saw every kind of doctor and specialist to get help. They asked if she worked with anything toxic and she said no. But her symptoms only got worse. After working a few hours, she would become immobilized. She suffered these worsening symptoms for 15 years. It was only when she cleaned out her vents of fine dust that she discovered the truth.
She was immediately too weak to standup. Finally, in 2015, doctors diagnosed her with heavy-metal poisoning. Her blood had high levels of arsenic and lead. She’ll never fully recover. She can’t concentrate. Her memory is poor.
So beware. Don’t take a long time to find out what’s hurting you. The effects could be forever. Painfully, the work that made her sick is incredibly beautiful.