Sketching His Way Out: Matt Smith and Art’s Saving Power

Feature by Kevin Pai

Original artwork by Matt Smith

It’s a quiet night in Voorheesville, and Matt Smith is in his room sketching out whatever comes to his mind. His room is filled with action figures, video games, and movie posters, many deriving from when he moved here from Colorado two years ago. The migration, combined with his life long condition of severe hemophilia, has made adjusting hard. Instead of giving up and letting his frustrations get the best of him he stayed strong, taking up art as a means of emotional ventilation.

In 2015, Matt moved here from Colorado with his family after his grandmother was diagnosed with lung cancer. “Even though everything was going well in Colorado, when we heard the news my dad looked for jobs in the area,” said Matt. When Matt was first introduced to high school in Colorado it was a much larger student body than Voorheesville. “It was a lot easier to just be yourself, you could just blend in with the crowd.” He felt far more exposed and magnified after moving. Already being a reserved person, he had trouble expressing himself, which is when he started to dabble in art. “I started sketching things like video game characters, landscapes, all just to blow off steam.” He also added “I was just so frustrated, the circumstances leading us to move here didn’t really make sense to me at the time.”

I started sketching things like video game characters, landscapes, all just to blow off steam.

While moving here certainly was strenuous on Matt, it pales in comparison to his condition. Matt Smith has type A Hemophilia, which is a more severe variant; “To put it simply, to be considered non-hemophilic you have to produce 60% of a protein known as factor-8, and I produce less than 1%.” To treat his condition he has to get several blood infusions a week in a port on his heart that he has had since he was eight years old. “Recently I found out that I had to get the port replaced, since it’s 

designed for an 8 year old and I’m 17 now,” said Matt with a smile. He didn’t appear phased by this;when asked if he was worried he denied it. He did, however, say that he has developed a bit of a phobia towards needles. “When you’re getting these injection three times a week, you start to develop a phobia towards needles.” He went on to say that it’s actually quite common for hemophiliacs to develop this phobia, due to constant exposure. “It’s definitely one of my greatest challenges in life, I have to inject myself with an IV, and even with my port it can be difficult.”

Matt has not let Hemophilia inhibit him. Of course, there are some things he can’t do, such as contact sports, running, weight lifting, etc. as there is a risk of injury and his tendons are susceptible to internal bleeding. “I’d say I definitely gravitated towards the things I like to do because of my condition,” said Matt, “not being able to play sports or do a lot of things outside, pushed me towards the arts.” Matt is interested in the film industry, and has used his sketching talent to draw out some ideas with a long-time friend from Colorado. He would like to go into the Marketing side of the film industry, and plans on moving back to Colorado to pursue higher education.

 

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Kevin is named Kevin. Kevin’s last name is Pai. Kevin is a senior at Clayton A. Bouton High School.