Invisible to Others Recap
Artist Bio: Stephanie Eley is a photographer based in Atlanta, Georgia where her fine art develops conversations around social activism. She has shown at the Museum of Contemporary Arts in Georgia, and the National Women’s Caucus for Arts Organization in New York and California. She received her Bachelors of Fine Art from Old Dominion University, Virginia, in 2012 and will receive her Masters of Fine Arts from Savannah College of Art and Design, Georgia, in Spring 2015. Her current work Invisible to Others focuses on the limitations of the medium of photography as it communicates to the visually impaired.
In examining a group that has been traditionally excluded from the fine art gallery, this work addresses universal humanity, while creating new inclusive ways that art can be presented through secondary senses as well as sight. Invisible to Others incorporates a multi-sensory presentation of portraits, alternative processes, and audio.
Statement: Invisible to Others developed from my personal reflection with having poor vision, I am captivated in the concept of a tangible experience. Questioning the permanence of sight, I’ve always feared the idea of experiencing this world without my primary means of connection. Because of this I have continued to revisit this concept of vision as I create work that welcomes those living an altered visual experience into the gallery by examining their existence.
Invisible to Others features visual arts about and for those with visual impairments but is inclusive to the sighted as well. I have created work that invites the viewer to use their sense of touch, sight, and sound to aid in their experience. Presented through two series of portraits; the viewer is invited to explore imagery enhanced by luminosity as well as Braille. The second portraits are intimate cyanotypes (an alternative process that produces a photographic blueprint) that portray those interviewed in the making of this art. Alongside the photographs are embossed diptychs (paired artwork that is hands-on to the viewer and elevated with Braille) inspired from diagnostic tools used to gauge levels of perception. Welcoming all, this exhibition presented various ways to perceive art. The soundscape within this exhibition expands on how those with a visual impairment have coped and persevered in living in a sighted society, elaborating on the individuality and audacity within this community.
The Opening Reception: The opening of the show was an immaculate experience to see come to life. With 200 participants from the Atlanta community the visually impaired and sighted met in the space to experience this work the way I had anticipated. To assist the visually impaired I had volunteers available to guide participants around the space, describe the art, and Braille translators available to help understand the inscriptions within the art. Darrin Snulligan is totally without sight due to a failed attempt at suicide. I met him along the developing process of this project. Today he is a motivational speaker and a cook. In hopes of returning the gratitude of being so welcoming, I asked Darrin to prepare the refreshments for that evening. He prepared and delivered a beautiful and appetizing arrangement of h’orderves for our guests. I am grateful to those who assisted that evening; many hands came together to help achieve this formidable task.
I led brief “ touch tours” through the space that evening encouraging the willingness of various visual communities to work together in order to addresses our culture’s social gap. Personally, witnessing people from various demographics join together in efforts of removing stigmas associated with being impaired was powerful. I believe everyone went home in reevaluation of what it means to be without sight, as well as in self-evaluation of what it means to have an impairment. Amongst the chaos that evening I was most taken by the individuals that pulled me aside to thank me for offering a new experience- having never been invited to a gallery. What we accomplished March 27th, 2015 was the beginning of how to develop a system for visual communities to coexist in the world of art.
After the Opening: The show was up until April 3rd, 2015 and during that week I had a few private tours join me. Fellow students from SCAD joined me with their professors. A group of students from the Academy for the Blind- Macon, GA brought their high school art students, and in honor of autism awareness month a group of disabled adults joined me. I am glad that I had the opportunity to meet with both groups; it was truly moving to see the passion and desire they share with me to experience art.
I am excited to progress as a visual artist within this concept. My hopes are to continue to create future exhibitions that stand for the same purpose - demanding the presence of the impaired in the world of art.
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Find Out More: If you would like to learn more about Invisible to Others or see more of my works please visit me at: www.stephanieeleyphotography.com
All the best,