- Posted June 1, 2011 by
Huntington Beach, California
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Have you been affected by AIDS?
From Blind Vision to Vision Beyond Sight
- nsaidi, CNN iReport producer
As a legally blind photographer I have overcome the barriers, obstacles and challenges of producing and exhibiting my art. Through my photography I create images which recontextulize the very nature of seeing.
In 1991 I was diagnosed with aids and in 1996 became legally blind due to a related condition, Cytomegalovirus retinitis. My limited visual acuity - total blindness in my left eye and limited peripheral vision with no central vision in my right eye - permits me to see the world much like it appears in an impressionist painting. I also experienced one of the most highly visible manifestations of the AIDS virus - Kaposi’s sarcoma - which produced purplish red lesions all over my face and body. I was easily identified as having the disease and experienced the stigmatization many people living with the virus endured during this time. The inscription of illness and resulting disability has become the impetus behind “Blind Vision” a series of self portraits representing the psychological, emotional and physical weight of sight loss.
Fortunately the availability of new anti-retroviral medications in the mid 1990’s came along just in time to spare my life but not my sight. I lost many friends and associates who regrettably experienced painful and horrifying deaths from lack of medications and compassion. With the prospects of greater health and longevity I resurrected my art career and eventually pursued a life long dream of obtaining a graduate degree.
While completing the last few weeks of my Master of Fine Arts program at California State University, Fullerton, I was admitted to Hoag hospital...where I was informed by my surgeon I had a very rare form of intestinal cancer called Pseudomyxoma Peritonei. Having just acquired my graduate degree, having several successful bodies of work, surviving AIDS and experiencing AIDS related vision loss I could not fathom one more thing happening to me.
I felt it was necessary to be in and around nature as much as possible. I brought my camera along, photography being my passion. What has developed is an amazing body of work I entitled Seasons in the Prayer Garden. In this series I utilized techniques which enhanced latent color frequencies embedded in natures’ color field not readily visible to the human eye. Color theorists postulate color frequencies have a positive effect on human emotions and psyche, activating regenerative, healing properties.
Through the Prayer Garden work I conflate the concepts of healing through nature & art. I consider the Prayer Garden work a gift; undoubtedly it was a gift of life, healing and continued creativity. I can appreciate the positive aspects nature and art bring to the healing process. The spirit of this new work fosters internal healing, as well as stimulates creative and spiritual resources. Ultimately, my work is about appreciating life and holding life consciously.
Photos by Kurt Weston