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Painter Chooses Her Art Over Her Health (This Is Not An Episode of House)

Alison_silva Artist Alison Silva was a painter of adequate talent who started getting blinding headaches. Fearful for her health, of course, she went to a series of doctors and found out that she had a benign tumor pressing on her brain. Right next to her memory center, the tumor could easily cause seizures or death. What it did do was give Alison incredible inner vision that has transformed her into a painter that is selling her work at $7,500 a pop. So...she's putting her art first and keeping her tumor.

No, this isn't an episode of House. This is a true story, and Alison Silva really is keeping her tumor.

Man, it gives new meaning to the phrase "suffering for your art,"  huh?

When I saw Alison's story on my local New Jersey news (holla, Garden State) at first I thought "well, I've seen that on House. Or was it Grey's. No, it was House." But to know that this is really happening, that this woman is so dedicated to her art that she's putting her life on the damn line to keep her talent, it got me thinking that I should really stop complaining about writer's block, yanno? It's weird and wonderful and scary, and if nothing else, incredibly thought-provoking.

How far will an artist go to hone her talent? We hear about artists, writers, filmmakers, actors, musicians who are all mentally ill but refuse to take medication because they don't want their art to be affected. We hear about people with physical limitations who use all sorts of means to keep writing, keep painting, keep playing music no matter what, come hell or high water.

And in the case of Alison Silva, is the chance of physical death as frightening as the idea of the death of her creativity? For Alison, obviously the answer is no. 


tres bruhas by Alison Silva

To be clear, Alison is not delusional (well, medically, she kind of is, but she's based in reality) and has stated that if her medical condition worsens, or if she starts having severe seizures, she'll re-evaluate her decision. But since the tumor is so close to her memory base, she might have to start all over again in life, and would that new Alison be an artist? Would a new Miss Banshee be a writer? Would a new you be...you? I hope to hell none of us ever have to know.

And as for Alison, I fervently hope that her tumor stays right where it is and doesn't cause any funny business. That way, she can keep making the art that she has decided is more important than anything.

What would you do? As for me? I sure as hell don't know.

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that is a fascinating question. one i hope i don't have to face. course, i don't think i have a talent that would be enhanced by a tumor. but i do understand the fear of starting all over and the fear of not knowing who you are. scary but exciting? this one is hard to call.

P. Gardiner

The stupid Bing ad is covering the first paragraph and I can't get it to go away.


Didn't Dostyevski have left-brained seizures... he'd talk about how the moment before he'd see God. Sounds worth it (and I don't even believe in that God thing). I also don't believe in looking up spellings for names on the Internet for a stinkin' blog comment. You know who I'm talking about!


She is a brave soul.I think if I had the choice of living with it or having it gone and erasing everything I knew nad loved,I would opt to leave it be unless it became life threating.I would rather keep things the way they are.I give her the big brass balls award today


If it was my life vs. my art? My life, no question. I guess I'm not totally clear on how eminently life-threatening this tumor is. If I can live with it and still do what I love? Sure. Otherwise... idiotic. I'm a humanities major with an emphasis in art history and even to me good art isn't worth a life.


Her picture looks like something my kid could do, if my kid had a life-threatening tumor.

(come on, i couldn't just leave that one)


Writing versus a brand new life where I might not know my husband or child? The latter is worse than losing the ability to write.


I say do what you love. We're going to die anyway.

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