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Participant Information

Greg Darling


Art has come to play a major role in my life as a person with Parkinson's disease. It has become a way to let people know that just because I have a non-curable, degenerative neurological disease, I still can lead a productive life. I can still be a valuable part of society.

After having to medically retire at age 42, I needed something to do. Something to keep me busy and to replace that sense of self-worth that having a job gives.

I started making big pieces of furniture but that soon became too much to handle. I had to find something smaller and lighter. That's when I was introduced to pen making. Making pens is fun, addictive, and requires the skill of a machinist and the eye of a photographer.

The materials and possibilities are endless. I prefer wood, corncobs, and deer antler. I do not use duplicating equipment. Each pen is unique. They are one of a kind. I never know how a pen is going to turn out. There is a point in the finishing process where the wood grain will 'pop.'

That's when you know what you have created. Turning pens provides me with a break from PD. When I'm turning a pen I get so involved in what I am doing that I forget that I have PD for a little while.

When people see the wood pens I create they can't believe that a person that shakes, stumbles, and moves slower than forever can create something so beautiful.

When someone buys one of my pens I get a great sense of pride and my self-confidence gets a boost. I get a feeling of, yes, I can still contribute.

I think that Parkinson's disease has played a huge role in my art and creativity. It has forced me to slow down and look at things in a whole new way. Now I take the time to enjoy my surroundings. It has helped me look for the hidden beauty within.

I see things now that I never knew existed but was right in front of me all along. I'm more determined to complete a project now to show myself I still can. If I give up on a project because of Parkinson's disease, I've given up on myself. Parkinson's disease has won. My goal is to never let Parkinson's disease win and to create some beautiful pens.