Jasmine Raskas paints vivid depictions of science, all while battling a rare medical condition called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.
Twenty-four-year-old Jamsine Raskas knows no limitations. A medical student turned painter, the newly-budded artist juggles both an aristic and athletic career, all while living with a rare medical disorder called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.
Raskas creates her art under the name Undus Mundus, meaning “one world” in Latin. The young painter is inspired by psychologist Carl Jung’s theory of the collective unconcious; everything is connected, and this is what Raskas wishes to display in her work.
Raskas was once in an accelerated medical school program at the University of Missouri- Kansas City. “I planned on getting my PhD and getting on a research route. I’m still really interested in scientific research,” says Raskas.
The painter’s thorough scientific background is clearly displayed in her art. Her painting, “A CELL IS NOT A MACHINE,” is inspired by the inter-workings of the human cell. Raskas’ work walks a fine line between science and visual art. “I think everything is one and the same. That is why I do art, because you’re allowed to cross all barriers of fields,” says Raskas.[a-cell-is-not-a-machine]
“A CELL IS NOT A MACHINE,” Acrylic on canvas.
Besides for one high school art class and a figure drawing course in college, Raskas holds no art education other than what she’s learned from experience. For the young painter, the creation art is itself a process of gaining knowledge. “I view art as a tool to understand the world around us,” writes Raskas on her blog, “The sciences and humanities each look at the world through their own lens, but don’t offer a way to synthesize a broader view of existence.”
In conjunction with anatomically inspired paintings, Raskas is also influenced by modern physics. In her desire to merge the gap between man and nature, the artist uses vivid colors to create surreal images of nerves, light, mitochondria, and gene transcription. “I try to paint things that look like they could be seen under a microscope or telescope, so they’re this real-world potential but you can’t tell if they’re macroscopic or microscopic,” says Raskas.[studio1]
Jasmine in her studio.
Raskas started to paint seriously around the age of twenty, the same time she was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.
Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome is a rare chronic disorder that effects one’s connective tissues, causing joints to frequently dislocate and stretch like Laffy Taffy. Because of her condition, Raskas has numerous allergies, trouble walking, issues with proprioception (the ability of the brain to know where limbs stand in space) and vision.
At times, even painting can prove difficult for Raskas. “I have so much trouble holding a paintbrush, but then I can do these random things [brush strokes] that are so easy to me, but it does hurt to paint,” says Raskas. As a consequence of her limited mobility, Raskas cannot paint from one side of a canvas to another in a single stroke. Her small brush-strokes are part of her signature style. The randomness of her paintings accentuates instead of reveals any awkward movements.
Nevertheless, Raskas turns to her art as a means to express her ideas. “Painting for me is a form of meditation,” says Raskas, “When I’m painting I’m not thinking at all; I’m just going with the flow.”
In addition to painting colorful and abstract images, Raskas enjoys painting robots. Due to Ehlers-Danlos, she begins to feel like the subjects in which she paints. “Robots represent how I feel about my body. I feel either really stiff like I have to move like a robot or really floppy,” says Raskas.[robot1]
“Paint-Bot 2″ 16″x 20” Acrylic on canvas.
“HERE NOR THERE” 12″x 12″ Acrylic on canvas. Photo courtesy of Unus Mundus Art.
Life with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrom is extremely physically exhausting, a testament Raksas can attest to. Raskas writes in her blog:
“I can only hold myself together for so many hours each day. My feet drag against the ground as I try to walk. I drop things unexpectedly. Sometimes a cup, sometimes a shoulder…I keep fighting until I reach a point where I simply cannot move at all without dislocating a joint (or two).”
With her scientific background, Raskas knows of her disorder. With her artistic background, Rakas understands her disorder. In her painting, “Warped Worlds,” the twenty-four-year-old paints about her experiencing excessive double vision.[doubled4'x5']
“Warped Worlds” 4’x5′ Acrylic on Canvas. Photo Courtesy of Unus Mundus Art
Her painting “Packed” is inspired by a long-standing headache Raskas endured while awaiting brain surgery. “It was an experience that definitely gave me insight into my art. I had to wait two months to have the surgery and was literally on my back for two months waiting. Every time I stood up my headache would get too bad,” says Raskas.
“Packed” Acrylic on canvas. Photo courtesy of Unus Mundus Art.
To function with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, one must attain extreme muscular strength and endurance. At the suggestion of her physical therapist, Raskas turned to Paraclimbing as a means to gain strength. Other than swimming, Raskas must avoid any sports that involve impact or people.
As an adaptive climber, Raskas has competed in several national competitions, including an IFSC Paraclimbing World Championship in which she competed for Team USA in Paris.
Even though there is no known cure for Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Raskas believes if she had the choice she would not alter herself to alleviate her symptoms. “As much as I hope for a cure to my health conditions, I strongly question the idea that I am something intended to be fixed,” writes Raskas on her blog. Ever the scientist, Raskas would never desire to alter her genome.
Twenty-four-year-old Jasmine Raskas knows no limitations. A painter, scientist and paraclimber, she embraces what nature has given her. In her art, she wants the viewer to smile and think. Raskas writes:
“Remember how tiny we are compared to the stars, and yet how big can be a single heart. Feel that we are all in this together and believe that every moment is as beautiful as you can make it.”[7a3a40da1b05f2fbca3f5642d6662346]
“Aperature” 4’x4′ Acrylic on canvas. Photo courtesy of Unus Mundus Art.
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[St. Louis artist Jasmine Raskas shows off her work]
Written by Bryan A. Hollerbach August 3rd, 2018
So far on my search for wellness, rock climbing has by far become my number one treatment option. Most forms of exercise, I tried prior to climbing resulted in further joint problems. Climbing has now replaced more than half of my tedious physical therapy routines. I am thankful that climbing is saving my joints, but I do want to emphasize that there are many variations in the forms of EDS and for people who easily tear ligaments and tendons this would not be a exercise to partake in.
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Can you talk a little bit more about how your floating and painting processes are related for you?
Floating connects me to my mind’s natural instinct, which is to simply exist and be in space. I think that is what we’re here to do as people who are alive. So many people walk around living in the past or in the future, and floating is a great place to ground yourself back into the now. I experience being right here, right now in my floats, and I also like to explore this type of idea in my painting.
Richard M. Powers. At first glance, rightly or otherwise, Jasmine Raskas’ Powered by Light calls to mind the works of that Chicago-born neo-surrealist.
To be sure, many of Powers’ revered and groundbreaking paintings appeared in the often deranged and sometimes downright dreadful context of genre science fiction, so Raskas might quibble with the offhand comparison.
Inviting that comparison, though, are various Powersesque features of the work under question, a 30- by 40-inch acrylic on stretched canvas created this year: the spectrographic exuberance of her palette; suggestive figuration like a solar/stellar device in the upper left corner and an ocular one in the upper right, as well as what resembles a central three-quarters human profile rendered in azure and teal; and such various other drippy/trippy features as a chromosomal or DNA-helical twist enigmatically juxtaposed with “1635,” which might or mightn’t be a date.
Still, if not Powers, then certainly powerful.
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YOU ARE SO MANY THINGS, AND WE UNDERSTAND YOU ALSO PAINT AND HAVE YOUR ART IN LOCAL GALLERIES AND EVEN ON CLOTHING! TELL US MORE PLEASE!
I’ve been on quite a painting binge the last several months all thanks to climbing! For almost two years I was unable to paint due to shoulder instability and I’ve only recently been able to try and paint again. Painting is my number one motivation to get to the climbing gym! For reasons I no longer try and understand, climbing literally keeps my shoulders in place. I paint between the boundary of abstract and surreal. When I paint there is no plan, things happen and then I touch them up just enough, so that it looks like everything all happened on purpose. My personal art expands well beyond painting, I like to study the intersection of science and spirituality. I view art as a tool to understand the world around us. The sciences and humanities each look at the world through their own lenses, but don’t offer a way to synthesize a broader view of how they relate to one another. This is why I believe art can be thought of as the master of science.
The ultimate goal of visual art is that it gets you to take a moment out of your day to appreciate the beauty of the present moment.
Unus Mundus Art | The reality that everything emerges from and returns to one
My art is inspired by the colors and shapes found in nature, the philosophy of a collective consciousness, and theories of reality that unite science and soul. To be certain is not to know. The goal of my art is to make you smile and then smirk. I invite you to slow down and think. Take a moment to wonder why. Remember how tiny we are compared to the stars, and yet how big can be a single heart. Feel that we are all in this together and believe that every moment is as beautiful as you make it.
I always have a few of my pieces up at Deer Creek Café and on rotation at a few other local spots. Currently my art is also in a show called Serendipity located in Kansas City at Jones Gallery. I want everyone to be able to enjoy a piece of my art in a form most suited for their own life. I’m excited to announce my most recent art project has been creating digital patterns out of my paintings and then turning these patterns into products. I pattern my images as a fractal so it can be adjusted for all sorts of different products. Everything from shower curtains to clocks is available through my website, unusmundusart.com. My favorites so far are the bedding options.
The Free Art Campaign: Jasmine Raskas - Unus Mundus Art
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Photography by Michelle Thomas
Featured Apparel by Unus Mundus Art
This is the first time you have created an art piece based on your floating experience. I’m curious to learn more about what that was like for you. What parts of your floating experience inspired you?
Well, I don’t usually use black paint. I used it in this painting because I felt inspired by floating in darkness. Sometimes when I float, I see tiny specks of light, which my brain is kind of making up. So I was thinking, this whole painting could be inside that tiny speck. It could expand from that tiny speck and then contract again. In this painting, forms expand and contract.
I also felt inspired by the concepts of surfaces and space, and this is the most I have ever explored those concepts. When you float, you lose touch with your body, so you remove yourself from the physical surfaces and spaces that you’re used to in daily life. When I float, I feel like I am touching a metaphysical surface. So, I guess this painting is also a metaphysical surface. It is a visual representation of the surfaces I touch when I float.
Also, connection, networks, and growth are the biggest things that come up in my art. I want things to look like they could be both cellular and astrological at the same time, like a fractal. The float inspired me to paint because these same concepts came to me while I was floating.
Is there anything I haven’t asked you about floating or painting that you want to share before we finish today?
I really want to figure out a way to make it more accessible and available to people with my genetic condition. Even though I’m a spiritual person and I want to use the floating environment to explore that side of me, floating is more physical for me right now. Once my physical stuff is more contained, then I’d like to explore more of the spiritual effects of floating.
I’m a meditator. And, to me, floating is a tool you can use to meditate. So, in that sense, it feels familiar to me. But, I don’t know, maybe it’s better than meditating. I just don’t know yet because I haven’t floated enough.
We really appreciate your willingness to share your artwork and sharing so many different aspects of you today.
Thank you, Jasmine!
Unus Mundus Art
The reality that everything emerges from and returns to one.
Written by Andrea Schoening January 17th 2016
[Jasmine Raskas, local St. Louis Artist, paints]
Another way they are related is that when I address a problem, I try to get the root of the problem so I can address it at its core. When I wanted to address my genetic condition at it’s core, I found floating along the way. My paintings also reflect this idea of getting to the root of things. They are very genuine. They help me see myself. I want my art to be personal, to be my mirror. But I want it to be vague enough so it can be anybody’s mirror. And I think that is true of floating too. Floating helps me see myself. It’s a personal mirror, but it’s a mirror for everyone. It kind of reminds me of the Mirror of Erised from Harry Potter, the mirror that you look into and see yourself experiencing your heart’s deepest desire. Maybe painting and floating are not your deepest desires, but maybe they can reflect a deep and significant part of you. I want people to look in to my work and find that deep part of them.
We recently stumbled across an article in a BJC newsletter about a girl who was destined to compete in the biggest indoor climbing event in the world, Paris’ International Federation of Sport Paraclimbing World Championships. We just had to meet this amazing young lady, Jasmine Raskas. May you get the same opportunity. She is a 22 year old whose courage, infectious joy and determination helped us refocus some of our own priorities. We are honored to share a bit about Jasmine and her passion with you...
Ladue News: Art & Soul Jasmine Raskas
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Jasmine definitely has a unique perspective on the world. Her creative energy stemmed from spending much of the last few years fighting Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a genetic connective tissue disorder. "In 2013, I started losing feeling in my right hand and it wasn’t until I could no longer hold a paintbrush that I realized how vital painting is to my life. At this time I was forced to take two years off from painting," Jasmine shared. Personally, as an artist whose eye sight is rapidly deteriorating into blindness, I felt a deep connection with this.
The need to create is what motivates her to keep up with her physical therapy, so she knew she had to keep making art. She found new ways to process all of her complex thoughts through mediums such as collage and clay, and has taught herself to work with her left hand. Since regaining the ability to paint, she is learning to adjust for the changes in her right hand, saying, "I have spent the past year learning new brushstroke techniques that incorporate shakiness and accidents into a style. I’ve also been exploring the concept of turning randomness into order and learning to balance free flow and method to concoct the perfect recipe for enjoyable art."
What can appear to us as mountainous obstacles can be shifted by moving small rocks at a time. What many may perceive as "mistakes" can quickly become something beautiful. We can overcome anything at all if we have the will and drive to do it, but to get there, it is important to find a change in our own perspective.
Jasmine is currently working on something called, "The Big Project," which is made up of two series asking, "What are we made of?" and "What do we make up?" The former contains work related to the physical components of the body, from mitochondria to bones, and questions the definition of a human by merging technology and robotics with the human figure. The latter contains work exploring the networks, agencies, and dogmas which currently run and direct our planet, as well as several pieces which theoretically contextualize the size of our Earth in comparison to the known universe. Get a sneak peek at some of these striking images here:
Want to learn more about Jasmine Raskas ?
Moreover, synchronistically, Raskas sketches a background that bridges British physical chemist and novelist C.P. Snow’s famous “two cultures,” the sciences and the humanities.
Those fields, she says, “each look at the world through their own lens but don’t offer a way to synthesize a broader view of this existence. I believe art can be thought of as the master of all science. I use art to study and explore relationships between multiple fields of study.”
Despite being only 23, the St. Louis artist also confesses to “a considerable science background. I’ve made microchips that regulate the electrical conductance of muscles, used lasers to measure bond lengths between individual atoms and listened for weeks to the sound of a monkey’s neuron. My art is a part of my quest for knowledge.”
In specific, she details how the painting under consideration developed from that quest.
“Powered by Light was inspired by following the pathway of a photon of light,” says Raskas. “Photons are generated inside the sun and then used to provide energy for photosynthesis inside of plants. This is how plants create the oxygen and carbohydrates which animals need to survive.
“This painting is a way to look at the cycle of life as being ‘powered by light.’ The greatest challenge was choosing which aspects of this endlessly complex cycle to focus on.”
In general, conceptually, she notes that any given work begins by comparing and contrasting, by unifying and simplifying, exploring existential mysteries and patterns both microscopic and macroscopic.
“I enjoy studying the nature of matter, light and sound,” says Raskas. “Much of my work is inspired by modern physics and encompasses an artist’s view of string theory and a holographic reality. To understand the transfer of energy, I turn to philosophical questions that explore the relationship between thought and action. … I speak in paint to escape ideology. I wish to create outside of time, culture and size.”
Her paintings, Raskas continues, strive to avoid and even void dichotomies real or merely perceived. Physical limitations, she adds, have led her “to embrace a style that encourages randomness and makes use of shaky lines and awkward curves. My brushstrokes are in constant motion to create a rhythm out of my weak and fatigued joints.”
Raskas’ ultimate painting goal embraces evolution and communication philosophical, inquisitive and sometimes just jocular, using art “to acknowledge our limitations of reason and to rethink our current understanding of reality.
“My art is inspired by the colors and shapes found in nature, the philosophy of a collective consciousness and the theories of reality that unite science and soul. To be certain is not to know. … I invite you to slow down and think. Take a moment to wonder why.
“Remember how tiny we are compared to the stars, and yet how big can be a single heart. Feel that we are all in this together, and believe that every moment is as beautiful as you make it.”
Artist, Paraclimber, Blogger
Jasmine, thank you for bringing your artwork in today. Do you mind if I jump into a few floating-related questions? How did you originally hear about floating?
Well, I have a genetic connective tissue disorder, called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which means all of the tissues in my body are extra elastic. They stretch, but they don’t stretch back, like Laffy Taffy. Things slip out of place, and then I walk around on the misalignment and other things start to hurt. I’ve done pretty much every therapeutic treatment out there.
Gravity is the main root of my problem. Since I can’t declare war on gravity, I hoped that I could find something that would help me solve the problem of how gravity affects my body. I found floating about two years ago, but I had to wait to float because I had a central line. For two years, I was really excited to try it!
Article Link to Featured Floater: Jasmine Raskas
Float STL: Featured Floater Jasmine Raskas
"On a light note," she says, "I will continue to rediscover the true purpose of painting as I explore deeper into the abstract realm." This Free Art Friend wants to show the world how to enjoy color and appreciate the depths of painting and art. It's important to remember that you are creative, you are powerful, and you have the capacity to create something truly magical.
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Image courtesy of Jasmine Raskas
Can you talk a little more about what floating is like for you in general?
More than anything, floating is a physical experience for me right now. It helps me realign my joints. It’s the only thing I have come across that really helps me in this area. For instance, I’ll spend a whole hour with a massage therapist who corrects one group of muscles that are not aligned. And that helps. But in the float, my body completely realigns itself in 90 minutes, which would otherwise take, like, years! I’ve been trying to tell everyone with my genetic disorder that they need to float. It’s a huge help, and it’s very natural and effortless. It should be a prescribed treatment.
In general, I spend the first part of my float stretching and helping my joints get back to their natural alignment. And when my body feels good, I spend the remainder of my float exploring my mind, concepts, and the unknown. Yesterday, I had my first double-float. I was able to use the first 90 minutes to get in alignment and the second 90 minutes to explore my mind. I’m really excited to be able to spend more time exploring my mind in the future.
It sounds like even though you found floating for help with your physical condition, it has been interesting to you in other ways.
Yes. I’m trying to learn to find a balance in my life. I know that if I try to do anything too intensely in one way, I can take it so far that I ruin the point of why I am doing it. So, I try to do more than one thing. I focus on things, but I also “zoom out” to stay in touch with the overall big picture, the larger purpose. I do that in my floats and my painting. I try to “zoom out” and “zoom in.” Knowing which to do comes from listening to my intuition, I guess, or some sixth sense. Maybe that’s the spiritual-ness that I’m trying to be in touch with. Floating and painting feel spiritual to me in that way.
Jasmine Raskas is a local painter in STL. After her second float, she felt inspired to create a painting. We wondered if she would share her work with us, which she was absolutely willing to do. When Jasmine arrived with her painting, we were delighted to see it and chat about it. We feel grateful to listen to her speak about the ways that floating inspires her to explore metaphysical concepts in painting, and also grateful that floating has helped her physical condition. If you are a person who enjoys exploring abstract concepts and abstract art, or if you struggle with joint misalignment (severe or not), read on!
Oy Magazine: Climbing out of chronic pain. Artist with rare genetic condition finds healing in her studio and on the climbing wall
YoGoGirls: ELEVATION INSPIRATION – ADAPTIVE ROCK CLIMBER EXTRAORDINAIRE!
Unus Mundus: The philosophy of an underlying unified reality from which everything emerges, and to which everything returns.
I recently strolled down Cherokee Street for their annual Print Bazaar and stumbled upon an artist who is an amazing testament to all the things of which human beings are capable. Her name is Jasmine Raskas. She is a St. Louis native who says art is what she lives for, and upon hearing her story, I think you will find it truly inspirational.
This fascinating artist combines visual art, science, and philosophy into all of her work. Jasmine has a profound thirst for knowledge, letting me know she hoards flashcards and never leaves the library without a dozen books. "I view art as a tool to understand the world around us," she explains. "The sciences and humanities each look at the world through their own lenses, but don’t offer a way to synthesize a broader view of how they relate to one another. This is why I believe art can be thought of as the master of science... and I use art to explore relationships between multiple fields of study."
I think this is beautiful: Creativity can be the master of the whole universe if we allow it. Jasmine elaborates, saying, "By using art to study and explain science, I can simplify complex principles in a way which is beautiful enough for everyone to see... from macro-emergent properties of the universe to the relationships between linguistics, thought, and action." Using both hemispheres to convey abstract, analytical knowledge is something the world is lacking. As I myself am a very visually-oriented individual, I find this notion stimulating and radical.