Hi ! My name is Alexandra Voy, I mostly get called Alex.
I am from a small town called Newton Aycliffe in County Durham in the North-East of England, UK. I was born in 1986 and I was born with a condition which was then called VATER association and is now known as VACTERL association, I was born with Ventricular Septic Defect (VSD) which meant I had a hole in my heart, I also was born with Trachea Oesophageal Fistula which means my food pipe joined into my air pipe, a slightly curved spine and a smaller right ear, but the most obvious thing I was born with was Radial Aplasia which meant that the radius bone was not present in my right arm and because the thumb joins to the radius bone this was missing too, my right arm is a lot shorter than my left and it bends inwards at the wrist.
I have had many operations to correct the internal problems but when corrective surgery for my arm was suggested to my parents they chose to wait until I was older and let me decide for myself, this is a decision I am very happy they made, I have decided that surgery would give me a big problem because I would have to go through 21 years of learning and adjusting to a new way of using my hand, and I think this would be very pointless. I learnt to do things in a similar way to everybody else when I was younger, to me my arm has never been a big problem because I have always found doing things natural and if I couldn't do something I pushed myself hard to do it, I don't consider myself to have a disability because the word "DISability" implies that you are dependent on others to help you get through the day, where as I am self dependant and I have just as much ability.
Before I started school I can't remember being remotely bothered that my arm looked different, I probably didn't realise until I started school and it was noticed by the other kids. I was bullied quite a lot during both primary school and secondary school but it wasn't until I started college to study a one year Art and Design course that I was aware of how different I am and how cruel some people can be. I was 16 and old enough to understand why people acted the way they did and I wondered how long was I going to be bullied. Would I ever be able to get a good job? Will I ever have any real friends? This really affected me. I hated the way I was so much that I would never show my arm. I even found it hard to look at it in the mirror. I would stand to the right so that I couldn't see it in my own reflection. I always wore my coat, even if it was boiling hot I would rather just boil to death than show my arm to others.
This year of my life was so hard that I was still very quiet, constantly paranoid and the hurt was still there for the next two years during studying a higher 2 year Fine art course. I then moved to a larger town 30 minutes away called Middlesbrough to study a 3 year BA (honors) degree in Fine art at Teesside University, I am now in my third year and I have been living independently away from home for two years now and I am very happy. I have met some genuinely fantastic friends. I am living in a large multicultural town that is more acceptable of others and for the past two years of my degree I have been making art about my feelings towards my arm and experiences I have had from being “different”, including one painting which I named The RIGHT me, which I painted using only my right arm, which is something I had never thought of doing before, and I was very surprised at the results.
I am currently preparing for my end of the course degree show and I am very excited about presenting my final piece, which is a number of video clips displaying how I do things such as tie back my own hair, put on my own watch, tie my shoelaces and write with my right hand. I usually find that most people's first reaction to me is that they assume I need help to do everything, usually they ask “do you need a hand with that?” to which my reply is “yeah great I'll have your right one please”, I find that it's always good to have a joke, even though the other person usually looks really uncomfortable when I do joke about myself (I don't do this on purpose, it‘s a really bad habit I need to stop doing). During my research for my projects I have found one quote and one poem which have really inspired me and I would like to share them with others.
People laugh at me because I am different, I laugh at them because they are all the same
‘Tis true my form is something odd,
But blaming me is blaming God,
Could I create myself anew,
I would not fail in pleasing you,
If I could reach from pole to pole,
Or grasp the ocean with a span,
I would be measured by the soul,
the mind's the standard of the man.
(poem written by Isaac Watts, also used by Joseph Merrick on pamphlets to promote his sideshow) this is also the title of my video for my degree show
If there is anybody who would like to chat my E-mail address is alxlvzu [at] hotmail.com I am also on MSN messenger, Myspace and Facebook feel free to add me.
My view of me #1. Acrylic on canvas. This is one of a series of 3 paintings taken from photographs depicting what I see of my arm when I look down.
30 steps to normal. acrylic on canvas, i painted this after researching the surgeries i could have on my arm and thought about the physical affect it would have on me.
Missing or just never there in the first place, poster.
A little joke i thought up when realising after years of being told i had a "missing" radius bone that it can't be missing if it was never there to begin with.
Camouflage Arm. Acrylic Paint on skin and paper, this piece shows my own feelings and thoughts towards covering my arm to protect myself.
The RIGHT me in progress, this is a photo i took of myself painting with my right arm for the first time ever.
Radial Aplasia Cat and Bear. Textiles.
I made these stuffed toys as part of a project based on disability in everyday life themed everyday objects.
People Laugh at me because I am different I laugh at them because they are all the same, textiles on canvas.
Everybody is different in their own Beautiful way, Acrylic paint on skin.
Tying back hair with radial aplasia, Acrylic on canvas
painting from my own booklet aimed at people living with radial aplasia, showing them with text and images how to do everyday tasks.
Radial aplasia t-shirt logo(signed) textiles
my own designed logo sewn onto a t-shirt 1 of 4.
Radial aplasia t-shirt logo(signed) textiles
my own designed logo sewn onto a t-shirt 2 of 4.
Life's a stitch. acrylic on canvas with wool and needle. first ever personal painting looking at the surgery scars i have on my back.
The RIGHT me, Acrylic on canvas, first ever painting I did using my right hand only.
If you want to be a SuperHands Kid or Hero, or know any inspiring stories that would be a benefit to this site's viewers, please send me an email.