I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. I am a visually impaired artist with a retinal disease called retinitis pigmentosa (RP),* which I have had since childhood. (Did you know that only 15% of all legally blind people are actually totally blind?) I have enjoyed drawing since I was very young. My earlier works were mainly black and white illustrations that had greater detail. As my vision was changing, I started working with chalk pastels, which give drawings a softer effect and now I also enjoy working with watercolors. If working from a photograph, I will magnify the image so I can still see some detail. In doing so, I discovered that painting a picture of a magnified image can create an interesting effect in itself. By the time a painting is finished, it may or may not resemble my original idea. My favorite pieces are those that have taken on a life of their own. Rather than trying to replicate the style of a fully-sighted artist, I use my visual impairment as another tool for creativity and discovery, resulting in my own unique style. As my approach to art continues to change, I am also experimenting with new art forms, such as mosaics.
I always embrace the opportunity to help dissolve people’s predisposed ideas of what those with disabilities can or can’t do. I use creativity as a means of expression and communication. It is my way of showing that there are no limits to what a person can do, no matter the personal challenges. My hope is to help people see others' abilities rather than disabilities.
*Retinitis pigmentosa is a genetic disease that causes abnormalities of the photoreceptors (rods and cones) of the retina, which leads to progressive visual loss. This condition typically starts with night blindness. Gradually, peripheral vision diminishes, creating a tunnel vision effect. The central vision will also diminish and may lead to total blindness.