Anne Theresa Adams

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Though interested in drawing and painting from an early age, much of Anne Adams' adult life was spent in left-brain activities. Born in Toronto in 1940, she graduated with an Honors BSc in Physics and Chemistry from the University of Toronto in 1962 and taught at that institution for a couple of years until her first child with husband Robert was born in 1964. The family moved to Vancouver in 1966 where Robert became a Professor of Mathematics at the University of British Columbia. When, in 1975, the youngest of their four children was four years old, Anne resumed her scientific pursuits, obtaining a PhD in Cell Biology from UBC in 1982, and holding teaching and research positions until one of her children was seriously injured in a car accident late in 1986. Thinking he would need years of specialized care, she gave up academia and decided to take up painting as a full time career. As it turned out, her son made a miraculous recovery within two months, but Anne resolved to continue with her art.

She has enjoyed many private and public exhibitions of her work over the years since 1987, with numerous sales and commissions. Her paintings of UBC buildings have been on the covers of two issues of the UBC Alumni magazine. In 1993, along with the artist wife of one of Robert's mathematics colleagues, Anne founded the co-operative artists group "Artists in our Midst" which presents open studios events on three weekends each spring on the west side of Vancouver.

Anne works on paper with ink, watercolour, gouache and collage and, occasionally, with acrylic on canvas, paper and driftwood. Subjects have included streetscapes and interesting buildings, still life, creatures of the sea, abstract landscapes, abstract interpretation of music, histological designs based on images as seen under a microscope, botanical illustrations including portraits of wildflowers, berries and weeds, and driftwood gardens made of brightly colored pieces of driftwood assembled into "floral arrangements." During 2001 Anne completed a series of twenty-six mandalas for An ABC Book of Invertebrates.

During the latter part of the 1990s, Anne, who was previously highly articulate, began to notice some difficulty with speaking, especially word-finding. As the condition worsened, it became obvious to her family that something was wrong, but the diagnosis of Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA) was not made until early 2002. The dementia had progressed to the stage where Anne found it very difficult to convey meaning verbally (in speech or writing) and had some difficulty understanding the verbal communication of others. In April, 2004, the diagnosis of PPA was confirmed during a five-day visit to the Memory and Aging Center at the University of California, San Francisco. Notwithstanding her disability, the quality and quantity of Anne's artwork did not suffer in the slightest.

~ Robert A. Adams
Professor Emeritus of Mathematics
University of British Columbia

Read more about Anne Adams and her work in this New York Times article by Sandra Blakeslee.