I’m in a museum, the art is… good. Everything on the wall is… good. That’s what I’ve always been told at least. And that’s what art was, something that hung on a wall—only if it was good, and by “good” I mean, based on the opinions of a few specific people.
I’ve always loved to draw, since I could hold a pencil on my own. Growing up with my father who is an artist, I enjoyed drawing, but I felt that my drawings had to be “good.” I based my success on the opinion of others. I always felt I created good art but I never pushed myself to truly explore art. So my junior year, I decided to sign up for art class because it was expected of me.
While creating my own art, just trying to get the assignments done, I began to really watch my instructor as he worked on his art. He wore a strange pair of glasses and would get very close to the artwork. Though visually impaired, his art was nothing short of spectacular from the intense colors to the amazing amount of detail. This led me to wonder how somebody who is completely blind can create visual art.
With a quick Google search, you’ll find endless links to articles and studies of blind artists. One example is Esref Armagan, born blind to a poor family in Turkey, who taught himself to write and paint. Using a Braille stylus, he was able to create vivid paintings with depth and color. He applied paint with his fingers and managed to never smudge the paint. We can see the finished product but I still wonder, how did it feel for him?
Through a study done by John M. Kennedy on artbeyondsight.org, I realized that others have had the same questions. Kennedy’s study covered artists who were partially to fully blind. His study found that some see color, many have depth perception and they do feel the art. They truly experience their art. Art is an experience that should be a part of you, pouring out into your piece, feeling each motion it takes to create it. The blind can make and enjoy visual art without effort because they literally feel it. You want your viewer to feel something through your artwork; whether it is good or bad, art should strike an emotion. My teacher’s art is beautiful because you could see his experience, you can feel it.
The reason my art was just “good” all my life was because it wasn’t about the experience for me; it was to show off my skills. I wanted other people to value my work, like the paintings that hang in museums. It took watching my art teacher creating his art to truly understand the purpose of it. When you look at his art, you can see him within it, I can feel what he felt while creating it. His work may not be on those fancy museum walls, but he is a true artist because he lives his experiences with art, the way art should be.