When I originally wrote about Pete, Michael and John I was inspired by their ability to create art despite their loss of vision. Last week I had the privilege of attending the Artists with a Vision event at Samuel Lynn Galleries in Dallas. One word to describe the event? Phenomenal.
After seeing the artists work in person and speaking with the blind artists I have developed a whole new appreciation for their incredible works of art.
The first artist I spoke with was Pete, the photographer. He asked me right away which one of his photos caught my eye the most. There had been one that stood out to me because it was very different than his others, almost political. When I approached the photograph I realized that it was very political. It was called “Bus Series.”
This is a compilation of different events that have happened to Pete or his friends. What you can’t see from my picture is the text under each individual photo. When combined the text spells out a complete story. The pictures and texts create a story about a blind person that gets on a city bus but the bus driver is surly and responds negatively to the specific needs of the blind person. The other passengers not only don’t acknowledge the problem but they offer no help to the blind person. In the end a bus cop detains the blind person because he “disrupted” the bus. A city police officer comes to the aid of the blind person and reminds the bus cop of the rights of the blind.
This simple photo speaks to me in volumes. Though it isn’t the most uplifting piece of work, the fact that Pete brings this to our attention may be the answer that will help prevent these things from happening in the future. When I spoke to Pete he informed me that this is his only political work. More examples of his work are “Electroman” and “Cathedral.”
After speaking with Pete I was able to talk to John, the mixed media artist. In order for John to work with oil paint he has change the consistency of each paint which allows him to determine the colors by touching them. For example, he makes white extra thick and black is super runny. Changing the texture of the oil paint is John’s answer to seeing the colors. Oil paintings may take John as long as one month to complete because he needs to let the paints dry before he can continue working.
These oil paintings are what I called the “Wine Series” because of the names John chose for each work. On the left: “Cabernet Sauvignon” Top Right: “Chardonnay” Lower Right: “Merlot-Bogle Vintage.” My photo doesn’t do these paintings justice. The detailing and vivid colors combine to create truly beautiful works of art.
Another type of art that John is known for are his water colors. Unlike the the oil paintings the water color drawings take no more than three days to finish. In fact, John told me that he must finish a painting within this time frame because while the paint is wet it is slightly raised and he can feel where he has already painted. If he lets the paint dry too long he can no longer feel the strokes already made and it becomes what he calls “invisible painting.”
From Left: “Sunglasses II” Middle: “Self Portrait” Right: “Solo”
Lastly, I spoke with Michael, the sculpture. Michael had always wanted to be a sculptor but he didn’t start sculpting until he lost his sight in 1968 during the Vietnam War. The size of his sculptures range from fitting in the palm or your hand to approximately thirteen feet. In fact, his largest sculpture is thirteen feet and is located at the State Capital building in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Michael gets his inspiration from life, his thoughts and also from his dreams. Unlike many sculptures, Michael encourages people to touch and feel his sculptures. I find this inspiring considering some of his sculptures sell for over $100,000.
Overall, the event was spectacular! Each of the artists works were on sale and all the proceeds went to the AFB Center on Vision Loss. I will forever remember the opportunity I had to attend such a unique and inspiring art exhibit. Especially one that positively impacted so many people, both blind and sighted.
“Just because you lose your sight doesn’t mean you have to lose your vision,” -Unknown