An inspiration to many, Clinical Center patient and accomplished artist Ruth Lotz has continued to paint into her 90th year even as her vision fades.

Lotz’s passion for art began at an early age, and since being diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration eight years ago, she has seen her technique evolve and transform. No longer able to produce finely detailed paintings, she takes from memory scenes of places she loved and paints them in a new way. “In a way, I feel freer. The fact that I am unable to paint all of the intricacies of a flower doesn’t stop me from creating a beautiful flower,” Lotz said.

She was honored on May 13 at the CC as part of Healthy Vision Month, an effort by the National Eye Institute to raise awareness of eye disease. The event was attended by Lotz’s family and friends and members of her art community and retirement village.

"Roses for You" by Ruth LotzDespite being legally blind, Lotz has maintained her social life and passion for art and painting, as evidenced by the stunning water media paintings on display in the east gallery on the first floor of the Hatfield Building.

The east gallery is one of eight galleries managed by the Clinical Center art program. The program primarily features artwork by artists from the Washington, DC, area, with occasional exhibits from around the country.

Lotz’s artwork is available for purchase, and 20 percent of the purchase price of each piece will be donated to the CC’s patient emergency fund. Operated through the CC Social Work Department, the fund provides limited financial assistance to selected patients and family members who need help in order to remain part of a clinical research protocol.

Rebecca Parks, an art connoisseur and senior occupational therapist in the CC Rehabilitation Medicine Department, was struck by the beauty of Lotz’s paintings even before hearing the artist’s story. “Knowing what goes into making art and knowing how difficult the process could be for someone with a visual impairment makes me admire her paintings even more,” Parks said.

Parks purchased two of Lotz’s vibrant works of art for her personal collection. Two other paintings will also stay within the CC community after being purchased by the CC art program and the Office of Facilities Management for the Outpatient Pharmacy Department’s permanent collection.