About the artist
I am a legally blind artist with a retinal disease called retinitis pigmentosa (RP),* which I have had since childhood. I was born and raised in Chicago. (Did you know that only 15% of all legally blind people are actually totally blind?) I have enjoyed creating art since I was very young, before anyone realized that I had a vision impairment. I have taken art classes throughout my school years and adult life, but do not have a formal education in the fine arts. Although more than 80% of what I see in the physical world ranges from muted colors to black, and I have a 90% smaller than average field of vision (tunnel vision), there is a world of color and images in my head, waiting to be put on paper.
My earlier works were mostly detailed sketches in monochromatic mediums. I now mainly work with pastels for their richness of color and soft effect. If working from a photograph, I will magnify the image so that I can still see some detail. In doing so, I have discovered that painting a picture of a magnified image can create an interesting effect in itself. I’ve always loved French impressionism for its brave use of color and looseness. Since I now have difficulty deciphering colors, I may print my photo reference in black & white simply to get the values and don’t worry about what actual hues I am using. I use my visual impairment as another tool for creativity and discovery, resulting in my own unique style. By the time a painting is finished, it may or may not resemble my original idea. My favorite pieces are those that have taken on a life of their own. As my vision changes, so does my approach to making my art. I’ve also come to realize that in the case where I cannot depend on my vision, I depend on my inner spirit. I do believe that I have an artistic muse because there are times my finished art even surprises me.
I use creativity as a means of expression and self-healing. In that spirit, I introduced the Creative Eye series of creativity/art therapy workshops at Second Sense, a blind services organization. The participants had fun as well as received the therapeutic benefits of creating something of their own. We had tactile art projects and creative writing workshops, which ran from 2012 through 2015. I enjoy helping others discover that we all have the ability to create!
Exhibits & festivals I have participated in:
Oak Park Art & Crafts Festival
LaGrange West End Art Festival
Oakbrook Fine Arts Festival
Buffalo Grove Fine Art Festival
Highlighted in the Wild Onion (summer 2016), quarterly newsletter for the Chicago Pastel Painters Society
Juried into the Passionate Focus low vision art exhibit in Chicago, IL for the last 4 years.
Juried into the Shared Visions low vision art exhibit in Fullerton, CA for 4 consecutive years.
Painting, "Dream Under a Desert Sky," was highlighted in the National Geographic blog: Phenomena: Only Human, posted on February 27, 2014
Introduced and facilitated art therapy workshops at Second Sense (blind services organization)
I am a member of:
"Every child is an artist.
The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up." -- Pablo Picasso
*Retinitis pigmentosa is a genetic disease that causes abnormalities of the photoreceptors (rods and cones) of the retina, which leads to progressive visual loss. This condition typically starts with night blindness. Gradually, colors fade to grays, and peripheral vision diminishes, creating a tunnel vision effect. The central vision will also diminish and may lead to total blindness. It can be compared to looking at the world through a small, unclear black and white TV.