As Anita began painting a giant heart, her own was quietly breaking
It took a life-threatening experience for Anita Glesta to understand that her heart was broken. The Australian artist was chatting with some art dealers at a Christmas party in New York, where she lives, when she “started to feel like I had this vortex in my head just spinning”.
“I thought it would be so embarrassing if I fainted right now – or dropped dead, as I later learned. So I soldiered through it, I went home, I went to sleep, I was fine. I got up the next day and went to the studio.”
Then came the call: a halter device that had been monitoring her heart following ongoing episodes of discomfort had recorded 200 beats per minute – twice the average range of 60 to 100 beats for women. She needed to go to the hospital immediately.
There, after many tests, an electro-cardiologist explained that she had what is colloquially called “broken-heart syndrome”, a well-documented affliction brought on by emotional distress. The experience and diagnosis has led to her new animated work, Unnerved (2021), showing at Federation Square as part of The Big Anxiety festival.
Anita Glesta with her father, Joel. His sudden death sparked creative change, along with a health crisis, for the New York-based artist.