Tuesday, March 10, 2009

To see without eyes

Last Friday morning at Orr we had the impromptu pleasure of having John Bramblitt in our midst, following his appearance the night before at the University of Missouri. John is a visual artist who lost his sight in 2001 and then learned to re-vision the world without the benefit of eyesight in order to continue creating his art. Obviously his methods changed but the compulsion to create, visually and specifically two dimensionally, did not. After working through great anger at his loss, John has not only reclaimed his vocation as an artist, but has also achieved and maintain a calmed and centered existence he never experienced while sighted. He described his early attempts to paint as requiring such strenuous focus that he literally broke into sweats at his canvas.

John has developed a method of painting in which he draws his image with fabric paint on canvas, leaving a slightly raised surface he can later feel after he's primed the canvas with white paint. He then adds paint by feel--each oil color having a different texture and consistency so he can distinguish and even mix colors. He displayed an example of a painting he did of his son, shown here. Here also is a link to an article the New York Timesrecently wrote on John.

In a serendipitous seque, two nights ago we opened our Netflix envelope and popped in Blindsight,which turned out to be a documentary about Erik Weihenmayer, the first blind man to scale Everest, and his attempt to guide six blind Tibetan teens to climb the 23,000-foot Lhakpa Ri on the north side of Mount Everest. As a visual artist since childhood, I've often imagined how diminished my life would be without eyesight. John and Eric do an astounding job of refuting that notion.


harold said...

looks good on 'paper', as usual!

jenni said...

Amazing! And so very inspiring.

Surly Mac said...

This is a transition that I cannot even fathom - loss of sight has always been a great fear of mine... too terrifying to adequately contemplate. I'll have to investigate your links to learn more about this remarkable artist; thanks for bring him to my attention.