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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Born to Create

Dec 01, 2017 08:00AM ● By Aspen Perry

Painting from Walk in the Park series. (Logan Madsen)

To view the art of Logan Madsen before getting to know the artist, one would never know Madsen suffers from a genetic disorder that affects fewer than 30 people on earth. 

Miller syndrome affects muscle and bone formation, as well as hearing and joint pain, and in Madsen’s case is the cause of malformed arms and hands.

Undeterred by the genetic disorder, which has affected him since birth, Madsen believes he was born to create. 

“I was born with the desire to create. Copying cartoons out of Disney books in elementary school is how I cut my teeth,” Madsen wrote in response to being asked what drew him to art. 

Raised in Holladay, Madsen attended elementary school in the location now designated as City Hall, in addition to attending Olympus Jr. and graduating from Olympus High in 1998. 

Madsen’s ability to draw provided him a sense pride as he grew up, which he explained helped him endure constant bullying. 

“Still, today, I earn intense pride of ownership whenever I am using these ‘weird’ hands to make something most cannot,” Madsen said. 

For 15-plus years, Madsen has taught himself how to paint, and not just in a single medium. To do so requires extreme dedication and is an impressive feat for any artist. 

Holladay Art Council Executive Director Sheryl Gillilan recalls when she first viewed Madsen’s work through the organization Art Access 15 years ago.

“The flowers were beautiful … and incredibly detailed, down to the individual pollen grains, but were off-kilter on the canvas because he said that’s how he felt in the world,” Gillilan said. 

“I remember thinking, ‘Wow, that artist really has a story to tell, and I had better pay attention,’” she said.

Madsen’s ability to capture and paint how he views the world is exemplary on its own merit, and leaves both the audience, as well as other artists, even more awestruck when considering the daily challenges of chronic pain coupled with other obstacles, such as obsessive compulsive disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and high-functioning autism, Madsen faces to create his pieces. 

“Logan is a Holladay hero — I have heard many artists speak highly of him,” said Lisa O’Brien, Holladay Arts Council president. 

Having his work held in high esteem by the Holladay Arts Council is just one of the many accolades in store for Madsen’s career. 

In October of this year, a documentary titled “Logan’s Syndrome,” which Madsen co-collaborated on with childhood friend, Nathan Meier, won the award for Best Feature Documentary at the Carmel International Film Festival. 

Meier, along with other producers, are trying to arrange for a local showing of the documentary and plan to post details on the film’s website,  

“Logan’s Syndrome” was filmed over the course of five years. The documentary takes viewers on Madsen’s journey while he creates a hyper-realistic series of autobiographical paintings, as a way to allow viewers to follow their most basic human urge — to stare. 

On his website,, Madsen discusses the concept of staring when confronted with someone different and admits to having the same urge. “When I see somebody who looks different I want to inspect them as much as I can. Clearly, it’s not nice to stare — but we all want to.” 

By creating his autobiographical series, “Syndrome Psychology,” Madsen hopes to remove anxiety as a factor, and create a safe space for both the viewer and himself.

“I want to bare my reality for everyone to see,” Madsen’s bio states. 

“Once I put it out there, it will be our reality.”

Madsen has been working on pieces for the “Syndrome Psychology” series as well as the documentary for the past decade, and although it can be “terrifying” as Madsen says, the experience has also been exciting. 

“I’m honored to be sought after by the Holladay Arts Council. I haven’t had many experiences under the spotlight as an established artist,” Madsen wrote in an email interview, to allow him time to work with his support team. 

Though it is not always easy or comfortable for him, Madsen looks forward to being more involved in the art community. “I am pushing myself out onto the ledge, for all of us.”