Dr. Lora Derr believes her work is equal parts art and science. The key, she said, is all in how a person looks at everyday life. Science accounts for skill, but art adds passion.
The Cleveland resident originally from Wadsworth, Ohio, is a practicing chiropractor and artist who said she finds joy in both types of work.
Early on in her college career, she studied art but later found that she wanted to become a chiropractor. She had injured her back while practicing gymnastics as a teenager and decided that she wanted to help other people get better the way her chiropractor helped her.
She graduated from Life College, which is now known as a university, before moving to Cleveland to work at the office of another chiropractor in 1982. She worked at the office for about a year before deciding to put down roots in Cleveland. Shortly after, she started her own chiropractic practice.
“I’ve always felt like Cleveland, Tenn., chose me,” Derr said. “That’s where my opportunities lay.”
She credits her family for fostering her artistic skills when she was a little girl. Her mother was an elementary school music teacher, and her father was an architect and wood carver.
Derr said family vacations often included trips to visit buildings with interesting architecture and art shows and to see theater productions and concerts. She began working with fabric when she was young as well.
“We always made our own clothes growing up,” Derr said.
She has experimented with a lot of creative endeavors since those early sewing projects, everything from painting to leather working.
“I do a lot of different things,” Derr said. “I don’t have a favorite. It’s whatever I feel like doing.”
One of Derr’s most recent artistic achievements was winning the “Best of Art” award for her entry into the art category of the Common Threads quilt show in October. The winning piece was a fabric collage pieced together from cotton fabric and fusible webbing.
She was inspired to recreate the scene she saw while in Bobcaygeon, Ontario, Canada, in fabric after seeing some fabric artwork that really impressed her. An Ontario artist had created a piece that Derr thought looked like a photo from a distance but was actually made from tiny pieces of fabric. When she arrived back in Cleveland, she was eager to try to learn the technique for herself.
As she balances her artistic endeavors with the responsibility of running a chiropractic office, she still sees art as a major part of what she does. She said most people do not disconnect their electronic devices enough to pursue their passions. Derr said she enjoys those “quiet moments” when she is working on a piece of art.
“I think your mind actually needs quiet moments,” Derr said.
She enjoys sharing her work with others. Those who visit her home see walls covered with her art, and those who visit her office see “the overflow from the house.” The walls in some of the office’s rooms and hallway showcase her work.
Most of Derr’s family members who encouraged her love of art have remained in Ohio. Still, she said she has found family among the friends she’s made in Cleveland. That factor paired with the two types of work she enjoys have made the town feel like home for the past 20 years.
“Both the art side and the chiropractic side are very satisfying,” Derr said. “It’s all very rewarding.”