Exhibit displays work by blind artists

May 18, 2013 10:00:00 PM PDT
Passionate Focus is a one-of-a-kind annual art exhibit that showcases the work of artists who are legally blind.

The Illinois College of Optometry will display 25 pieces by 15 different artists until June 7th.

"There were about 22 people who entered, and I think in total we had about 130 submissions," said David Tabak, Executive Director of Second Sense. "What makes a good piece is something appealing from a formalistic standpoint. but ultimately I think it speaks to people lot of narrative that is going on here. Yvonne Shortt has a lot about motherhood and things like that. Kurt Westin has a whole series on what is it like to lose your sight."

Each piece is judged by a panel of jurors. First-time juror Hilesh Patel is from the Chicago Arts and Partnership. He says he was impressed by the entries.

"I thought it was great. We came in, didn't know anything about the art. Didn't know anything about the artist. So we look at all the art very objectively," Patel said. "The fact that they are made by blind artists adds an element that raises the level of context. It makes it a difference, but not necessarily better or worse. But it makes it different."

Jurors not only vote on which piece should be part of the exhibit, they also select the best of show. This year the top three were "A Glimpse of a Drummer," "Girl Near Tree" and "Classic Ruin."

The art is for sale and prices range from $100 to $1,200.

"The artist gets 70 percent and we get the remaining 30 percent," said Tabak. "It's really a tremendous exhibit for us. It's not just beautiful art, but it really goes to the mission of Second Sense, which is really concentrating on people's abilities, helping people move beyond vision laws."

The Illinois College of Optometry is located at 3241 S. Michigan Avenue in Chicago.

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