A fascinating exhibition, “Blind/Sight: Conversations with the Visually Impaired,” currently on view at the Phillips Eye Institute in Minneapolis, prompts the viewer to rethink easy preconceptions about what it means to live with a disability, specifically vision loss — but it delivers its message subtly and from an unexpected angle.
The show includes 12 arresting, large-format portraits by noted documentary photographer Billy Howard: black-and-white, close-up shots of a diverse array of individuals, all of whom are coping with various stages of vision loss. Next to each person’s photograph is an accompanying illustration by Laurie Shock, Howard’s collaborator and spouse. Based on information gleaned from hours of conversation with the subjects, Shock aims to capture in the illustrations something of the way each subject sees the world.
The resulting combination of photography, interview snippets, and illustration is quite powerfully affecting.
This traveling collection (on loan from the Arts for All Gallery/VSA Arts of Georgia) quietly but potently takes the notion of a “disability” like vision impairment out of the realm of abstraction, and elegantly places it squarely within the personal, particular domain of lived human experience.
The show offers an inventive, elegant way to educate the public about the diverse experience of vision impairment by giving intimate glimpses of the world as seen through others’ eyes. And, in the process, the assembled pieces make those “others” feel downright familiar.
“Blind/Sight” will be on view through Jan. 30, so if you’re interested in seeing the show you should do so quickly. Details here.