Blind Artist Stephen Lapthisophon: “I see what I need to see.”

Blind PaintingThe 2012 Moss/Chumley Artist Award recently went to Stephen Lapthisophon. When he isn’t teaching art at UT-Arlington, he’s creating at his home studio.

What kind of art does he do? Well, pretty much everything.

“I do installations. I do works on paper, I do video, short films, photographs, sound art,” he said.

As a successful visual artist, a man who creates things for people to look at, you might be surprised to hear he can’t see them.

In 1994, Lapthisophon’s vision seemed a little blurry. His doctor told him he has optic neuritis.

In other words, he went blind.

“I can see mostly contrast. I can see colors and that kind of stuff. If I get really close to something, I can see much better, but it’s not ever sharp focus,” said Lapthisophon. “I sometimes joke with some people that I can’t see my own work unless I get really close to it.”

He had to leave his job in the wine business. He can’t drive.

“I can’t read without using a really big magnifying glass.”

“There’s a lot of practical disadvantages to being a vision-impaired person.”

What his blurry vision did give him is more of a focus on art.

“I don’t know that it allowed me to do it more, but I think it gave me a drive to not be defeated by it. You know, what I can do is not changed by the fact that I can’t see it perfectly.”

“I don’t feel like I’m at a real disadvantage, not being able to see.”

“I see what I need to see.”

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