I believe that art is an agent for transformation, and this two year long project, Unseen: Constellations specifically challenges pre-conceived perceptions we have of each other. This art project has a strong focus on collaboration with both visually impaired and sighted communities.
Through working with youths living with visual-impairment to explore self identity and their dreams and ambitions through a series of role-playing and skills-based workshops led by myself and our collaborators. The act of portraying themselves and making images of their own experiences and memories has a profound effect on the way they view themselves and encourages them to embark of a reflective journey of self-discovery. This workshop offers our participants an alternative platform for experimentation and for communities to learn together through art. Over the course of 2 years, our participants have been exposed to a diverse field of professions and artistic practice, ranging from performance, music composition, criminal psychology to aikido and even animal therapy.
Blindness is often associated with helplessness, darkness and inferiority. As Dr Kenneth Jernigan, leader of the National Federation of the Blind in the Unites State states, “In much literature and films in history, people who are blind are often misrepresented and blindness or visually impairment is portrayed as compensatory, total tragedy, a punishment for sins in present or past lives, or even in some cases, an unrealistic portrayal as the symbol of absolute virtue. There is a real lack of artwork and stories that truly give voice to the community that understands that the true trappings of blindness is not “the loss of eyesight but the misconceptions and misunderstandings which exist… Public attitudes about the blind become the attitudes of the blind. The blind see themselves as others see them.”
I hope to reveal existing misperceptions through my participants’ creativity and self-representations, and refocusing on how “opportunity and capacity and do not dwell on deprivation and disability.” The project brings out the best of students and all of us involved in the creative process because the very act of expression is an act of reaching out and connecting with others. Through this process we become active participants in our lives and communities. By focusing on how we are more alike than we believe to be true, differences that exist take on a different quality, and are perhaps celebrated in some cases. Our creative work allows us a safe space to rediscover ourselves and ways of living with others. I feel constantly challenged in the process, and have learnt the more we give, the more we receive.