Today is International World Sight Day, an event observed every second Thursday of October to raise public awareness for blindness and visual impairment. I thought it fitting to post about my current exhibition of portraits of community members who are blind and their works. The exhibition is installed at the Washington Talking Book and Braille Library.
My artistic vision dictates the photographs I create. However, I don’t want to
photograph for the aesthetic value alone.
The world is saturated with images, and we may find ourselves thoughtlessly
assigning the title of “beautiful” to rote things. The primary purpose of this project is
to break barriers of routine and expand our vision of beauty through all the senses.
Through this body of work, I photographed and interviewed members of the blind
community. Some have lived without sight since the day they were born; others
have lost sight later in life. A few have degenerative sight. I gave each person
a disposable camera, as a tool to capture what they find uniquely significant. These
images are displayed alongside the portraits I created of them. The camera becomes their
eyes for us to see into their world.
This project is concerned with the inner significance of beauty, not simply the
exterior. These eight individuals teach great lessons of how to appreciate the parts
of this world we no longer seem to notice. As master painter Edgar Degas states,
“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.”
Click here to read an article about "Innocent Eyes," featured on the Washington Secretary of State Blog.
(Innocent Eyes continued and thoughts behind the project coming soon)
A few extra facts about visual impairment:
- Approximately 285 million people worldwide live with low vision and blindness
- Of these, 39 million people are blind and 246 million have moderate or severe visual impairment
- 90% of blind people live in low-income countries
- Yet 80% of visual impairment is avoidable - i.e. readily treatable and/or preventable
- Restorations of sight, and blindness prevention strategies are among the most cost-effective interventions in health care
- The number of people blind from infectious causes has greatly reduced in the past 20 years
- An estimated 19 million children are visually impaired