DISABILITY Feed

Blind, they sculpt

photo Michael Gieschen, who lost his vision due to retinitis pigmentosa, sports a tee-shirt emblazoned with a group of walkers under the words “Blinds to Go” the name of his team (blind art students from Allens Lane Art Center and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The team walked in the Foundation Fighting Blindness Vision Walk to raise funds to research and combat retinal diseases. Shown here in the Allens Lane Vision through Art class, is Gischen with the parrot fish he sculpted, poised above coral. The family has become enamored of the parrot through vacations in the Caribbean. Shown with him is daughter Kara who is helping out with the final stage of his work, applying brilliant colors, which Gischen is very particular about, naturally, as he worked as a graphic designer before losing his sight. Watch video here.

Sculpture class for Blind

Carol Konopinski teaches the Vision Through Art class at the Allens Lane Art Center in the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia. The class which is open only to those who are legally blind has been going on for 25 years and the artists work mainly in clay but are branching out into mixed media. ---------------

This is the best day of the whole week. I live for Wednesday mornings … Hi, welcome to Vision Through Art. We’re a sculpture class for the blind and visually impaired. We have artists here who have a range of vision to no vision. And You have to be legally blind to be in here. Even though the teacher and the assistants are not, that’s OK. Someone’s got to have vision- stupid sighted people! We have a great time. It’s a super family. We’ve been going for almost twenty-five years now. We have a great group of artists and they do anything from small to large pieces. We work mainly in clay but we’re moving out into mixed-media pieces. So we’re doing a lot of really fantastic work here- working on the wheel, sculpture , papier-mâché, you name it we do it they’re game for anything…It looks like we’re going to have another day of mass chaos as usual but hey, you go with the flow and enjoy it. Chaos is good! It’s all about the creativity and the chaos… Frank’s going to be working on wedging and getting back on the wheel… Betsy’s got a piece to finish up, a little girl and a dog and then Plato is working on a piece that he’s going to make a mold of but he’s still finessing and getting the shape right so he’s being the master sculptor right now. Carol Kopinski, Teacher, Allens Lane Art Center Vision Through Art class. Watch video interview here.

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Betsy Clayton sculpts very realistic human and also imaginary creatures despite being legally blind for many years at the Vision Through Art program at the Allens Lane Art Center in the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia.

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Wait a minute, maybe I can turn the table over and maybe it’s white on the other side. YES, IT HAS YOUR NAME ON IT. This is my piece that I think of as an undersea creature. I don’t know what I’m going to call it. I was thinking “Riders Under the Sea” or “Undersea Riders”… I used gold, red and green. At first I painted it all green and then I dabbed on colors to make it look fantastical. WHAT CAN YOU SEE OF IT? It’s a blur to me. I mean I can see that there’s color on here but I don’t know what the colors actually are or where they are. When I painted them I knew where I wanted certain colors. THEY’RE PRETTY BRILLIANT DO YOU SEE ANY OF THE COLORS? Are they brilliant? Not to me, they’re just dull. DO THEY HAVE A SHADE, THE COLORS? Green I can see. But everything looks green to me. . . The back of him is supposed to be like an octopus thing, tentacles. WHAT ABOUT THE PEOPLE? They have no arms you see. Because they’re really not people. They’re things that live under the sea. Creatures. I don’t know what they do under the sea. But, they like to ride the monster or whoever he is… I see leaves on the trees all winter. I do. If I look at a tree, it has leaves. HOW IS THAT, WHY? I don’t know. EVEN IF THEY’RE NOT THERE? It’s not in full leaf like it would be in summer but I see green all around the trees because I see green. That’s probably why. Betsy Clayton, Vision through Art, Allens Lane Art Center, Philadelphia.

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November 28, 2012

In this video, Cara Gieschen demonstrates to a class of blind sculpture students applications on the iPad that may be useful to the vision impaired. One app speaks aloud the color the iPad's camera is focused upon. The app identifies solid colors well but hilariously identified the hair color of  some grayheads in the class as greenish and purplish. Gieschen demonstrated another app, VisionSim which, upon clicking on one of several eye disease in  a list,  simulates what a person with that disease actually sees.


Can do wheelies on his wheelchair

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Jim Leonard combats the debilitating effects of multiple sclerosis with the assist of an advanced mobility vehicle. No glorified “seat with wheels” Leonard’s device can zip through a mall at 6 miles per hour, recline him horizontally to relieve pressure or elevate him so he can reach the microwave in his kitchen or stir a pot. While waiting to be seated for breakfast at Mainely Meat in Bar Harbor, Maine, Leonard stopped short of demonstrating the 360 degree wheelies he can do with his sophisticated chair. Watch video here.


Friends, one blind, walk Chestnut Hill

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I'VE SEEN YOU GENTLEMEN WALKING IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD FOR MANY YEARS. WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT'S YOUR ROUTINE?

JM: My name is John Manola.

WT: And I am William Talero. I met John forty years ago when I was teaching at the School for the Blind in Jersey City. He was a chaplain of a group of blind people who used to be foster grandparents to some of the blind youngsters. And then I met him again nine years ago when I went to a concert in Philadelphia. And we joined forces and we moved here to Chestnut Hill. And we try to walk as much as we can and live a healthy life.

ARE YOU VISUALLY IMPAIRED?

WT: I am totally blind. I lost my vision. I used to have partial vision but eight years ago I became totally blind because glaucoma took the last bit of sight that I had. So living with John has been very beneficial to me because he's and honest person and he happens to like to walk and I always enjoy walking. Before I was totally blind I used to walk all over- the Wissahickon and I did a little bit of the Appalachian Trail...You don't believe it but this gentleman next month is going to be ninety-three.

JM: I'm 92 now; I'll be 93 in December, yes.

I NOTICE YOU WEAR SHADES, ALSO.


JM: Yes, my eyes are sensitive to light, there's nothing wrong with my eyesight.

WT: He has very good sight

YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT USING YOUR OTHER SENSES.

WT: Well you know there is a great opportunity to use your other senses when you walk down on the avenue because the bakeries, the dry cleaning, the flower shop, and of course the sounds are certainly very much in evidence. I remember many years ago when they used to have the trolley. And it was always a kind of nice, quaint sound that you always related to Philadelphia. I kind of miss that 23 trolley, you know?


WHAT ABOUT THE COFFEE AND THE GARLIC?Yes, the coffee and all the garlic and all the wonderful smells of the various restaurants, not as many as there used to be.

WHAT RESTUARANTS DO YOU RECOGNIZE BY SMELL?
I definitely know when I’m getting close to the Japanese restaurant and the Chinese-French place, Cin-Cin, and on this side, of course, the Hotel. We like to go to Rollers. It’s very friendly and we always have a good meal there.

John Manola (left) and William Talero, along Germantown Avenue, Chestnut Hill.

Watch video here.