Art is an expressive outlet for many, and it is no different for Kelie Hess, who visited Weber State University to present a speech titled “Living Beyond Your Limits” on Oct. 12. Hess is an abstract artist who primarily works with acrylic paints and recently had her artwork showcased at the Weber State Ogden campus.
Hess was born with a rare disease called multiple pterygium syndrome, which impacts her respiratory system, and she uses a wheelchair for most of her daily mobility. But her disability is not what she wishes to be remembered for, and she said it is not the thing that makes her unique.
During her speech, Hess expressed the “more important” aspects of what makes her a unique individual, and she expressed how she has lived beyond her limitations every day.
Art allows for her personal expression and offers her the opportunity to escape from the daily monotony of routine.
Hess expressed that some think of disability as something sad or unfortunate while others view it as a source of inspiration and encouragement.
“Disability comes to all of us as our bodies change with age,” Hess said. “We all have perceptions of what disability is.”
Hess and her husband launched a business, Mindful Mobility, that aims to help mobility-challenged individuals with their wheelchair needs.
Hess said the business is the brainchild of her husband. However, Hess manages the business’s social media and supports her husband in his vision and dreams for Mindful Mobility.
Hess also currently holds a full-time position at Utah State University at the Institute for Disability Research Policy and Practice. For the last five years, Hess has been the lead on a project that is personally meaningful: helping individuals with disabilities to secure jobs. At home, she is a beekeeper, a hobby Hess has been doing with her father for years.
Angela McLean, director of Disability Services at WSU, expressed the importance of having Hess come speak with the Wildcat community because she has an inspirational story.
“Kelie has experienced all of the ups and downs of life as a Wildcat and beyond and brings a unique perspective to consider as we seek to improve educational opportunities for students on campus,” McLean said.
When McLean found out Hess was creating an art project related to her personal life experience, McLean thought it would be a great opportunity to invite Hess to showcase her work and have her speak to students at Weber State.
Hess attributes her successes to the support systems within her family and those that she formed at WSU and beyond.