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 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 began my professional art career in 2011 and 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. As my vision changes, so does my approach to making my art. I’ve also come to realize that in cases where I cannot depend on my vision, I depend on my inner spirit.
I use creativity as a means of expression and self-healing. In my effort to help community discover that we all have the ability to create, I introduced the Creative Eye series of creativity/ art therapy workshops at Second Sense, a blind services organization. The participants had fun in addition to receiving the therapeutic benefits of creating something of their own. We had tactile art projects and creative writing workshops, which ran from 2012 through 2015. Another fun project was the Vision Through Words writing blog that I hosted, which invited visually impaired writers to submit poetry and short stories.
This last year has been a period of extremes: pandemic, politics and racial reckoning. During this time of isolation, I used my art as an outlet to express what I was feeling or thinking about. Some of my work reflected solitude. I’ve also started a color series: just as my palette is unlimited, so are the colors and dreams of my portraits. You can view my color series in my Figurative Gallery.
Art & Writing Achievements:
• A volunteer on the Diversity Committee at the LaGrange Art League, assisting in bringing in guest artists of diverse backgrounds and unique personal stories each month in a project called “Inclusion through Art”
• Juried into the Passionate Focus low-vision art exhibit in Chicago, IL for the last 6 years
• Highlighted in the Wild Onion (summer 2016), quarterly newsletter for the Chicago Pastel Painters Society
• 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)
• Hosted a poetry/essay blog for visually impaired writers called “Vision Through Words” (2011-2016)
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
I am a member of:
• Museum of the Art Institute of Chicago
"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.