YVONNE FELIX ARTS

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Vision Health Month Stories 1. Christopher

Posted by Yvonne Felix on May 9, 2016 at 5:00 PM Comments comments (0)
May is Vision Health Month and to celebrate, I'm sharing the success stories of people who are legally blind. Life is challenging for everyone, rising above these challenges is what makes each person amazing. Imagine being blind from birth and then being able to see for just one precious hour. Then imagine not being able to afford the $15,000 for the technology that made that one hour possible??? electronic glasses that would allow you to see like other people all the time. That???sChristopher Ford's situation. He's a college student at University of Texas living in Arlington, and he's having a real struggle in school and at work because he can't see. As well as going to school, Chris works at AT and T Stadium part time to pay for school. Chris was born with Optic Nerve Hypoplasia, which together with a condition known as nystagmus meanshe's legally blind. But when Chris tried eSight, he says it "blew my mind". eSight is a type of electronic eyewear that allows people likeChris to see. "With eSight, I could see things in a way I had never seen them before, from the Dallas skyline to the smallest print on a piece of paper. It was incredible!" One of the great things about eSight is that Chris will be able to see faces and interact with his fellow students and his co-workers. That will really help him to participate more fully in all aspects of his life. Some people at local businesses in Fort Worth are trying to help Chris (it's an employee initiative,. The Lighthouse for the Blind in Fort Worth is collecting donations via Nancy Fisher. Her number is 817-332-3341; her email is [email protected] Donations have to say they are for Christopher Ford. Thus is one of many stories I can share with you. Please share Chris's Story and Help to make blindness history.

Making Blindness History through the Eyes of an Artist

Posted by Yvonne Felix on January 27, 2015 at 12:05 PM Comments comments (0)

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As an artist, I am always looking for the right medium to convey whatever subject I am trying to explore. Three years ago, I met Ty Tekatch, a film maker, and we were commissioned to work on a media installation. The project was about the emotional connection individuals have to parks, by telling thier stories. Ty has watched me go throuigh the process of regaining my independence through the use of eSight. This was a film we made to help show my viceral experience of being able to see again.

What Does Legal Blindness Look Like?

Posted by Yvonne Felix on January 25, 2015 at 3:20 PM Comments comments (0)

"What does Macular degeneration look like?"

This has been a question that never grows old. If you have full sight, it must be fairly hard to imagine what that may just mean. In 2004, I attempted my first painting to help people understand what I was seeing. The below image is of a popular green space from my home town. It was a literal interpretation as I looked out onto the landscape.

Although the style is rather crude and raw, it does illustrate what my blind spot looks like. The rest of the image reveals the lack of detail, felld of view andmy  comprehension of contrast.

When I look to the horizon, I do not feel a sense that depth is something real. The world looks like cardboard cut outs; layered on top of one another at close range. 

In my works, I  icreate depth through  theory. Painting is very mathematical. It creates the illusion of sight by configuring elements of light, dark, colour and subject placement. R

 In the past, I have understood sight conceptually. Seeing a 3 dimensional world has been a mind blowing experience. My first painting since using this new technology was done for a friend that also has Stargardts.

I have yet to adopt Realism as a point of reference for my new works. One step at a time, as they say. 

The Next Gemeration

Posted by Yvonne Felix on January 22, 2015 at 11:25 PM Comments comments (0)

When you are told you have a disease that will basically be your new best friend, you are left with two options. Accept it and take on whatever it is that comes your way, or deny it and make your life the most confusing journey you will ever embark on. I am choosing the acceptance route.

When I was little, my parents loved Star Trek. I remeber growing up and watching every episode beside them on the couch. My father was an obssesive fan. 



Jordie Le Forge was the character that I identified with. I remember thinking, "how amazing, if seeing again was as simple as wearing a visor". Twenty years later, science fiction has become reality!

My journey with this new reality is shared with a handful of others.  Part of this journey is sharing our experience. Sharing the good, the bad, the happy, the sad, our success and set backs. These experiences are part of the human experience. Our experience!

I know what is is like to have a baby and know I will never see him the way sighted people do. The way the majority of people do. Because of technology, I have the experience of seeing my children's faces, something I never thought could happen.

This experience led me on the journey to help others, as many as I could. My sister, who shares my eye disease, has also shared many of my life experiences. When she became pregnant I wanted her to share in my experiences of sight, especially seeing her new born baby. When my children were born the eSight technology was not available. It was never an option for me. However my sister could use the technology, and become the first legally blind woman in history to use eSight eyewear to see her new born baby. This was a good experience! A happy experience! A successful experience! Our experience!

I am so proud of my sister, her bravery, her enthusiasm, her generosity. She has shared an intimate experience with the whole world. She had to process the experience of sight with the experience of becoming a mother at the same time. She has contributed to our experience, an experience none of us thought could happen, and it was, as simple as wearing a visor.

Click on the link below to view her video:

 

 

Kathy Sees Her Bay for the First Time





We are BIONIC

Posted by Yvonne Felix on December 21, 2014 at 11:45 PM Comments comments (0)

For the last century, society has tried to accept what they preceive to be not normal by creating a subsection of humanity that seggrigates those who have a physical or cognitive variation of what a human being is at birht.


Being given labels has been the way we catogorize these variations. The terms have come from degrading, cruel and ignorant places where we choose language to desctibe our state of being. 


What if we choose to decribe humanity by its function.


We are a bionic race.


This is a normal image


A blind mother using an electronic prosthesis to see her new born babies Face



A pop artist with a prothetic Leg.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jA8inmHhx8c" target="_blank">http://https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jA8inmHhx8c

We are an intergrated society. Cell pohone,tablets,computers, we use them for everything from communication to operations. There is not a single task that humanity does not perform where robotics or computer software is not imnvolved.

Yechnology has kept me alive from the rehabilitation from my car accident at the age of seven, the management of type 1 Diabetes to the ability to see again.


The question is, do we replace the word "disabled" with the word "Bionic"? I think we should just accept that we are a BIONIC race and move forward in creating a world where humanity is once again inclusive in it's view of civilization.



Lights Out

Posted by Yvonne Felix on December 7, 2014 at 12:35 PM Comments comments (0)

 

When I was in my second year of art school, I had a very distinct experience that has remained one of my most cherished memories. It was a prolific moment that allowed me to understand what it must be like to rely on your vision as a sighted artist.

 

Every Thursday our class had a life drawing lesson. This was my favorite activity as it was based on techical skill but there was always room for interpretation and artistic process. Organic forms provided animation: breathing patterns and a glowing brightness always seemed to illuminate from every model and I found it effortless to capture that basic beauty of the human form.

 

We, as students, were invited to make suggestions to the format of the class to enhance and bring diversity to the model or environment. I had made the suggestion of turning the lights off and having a spot luight over the subject. The idea was to create high contrast with dramaric lighting. I had discovered this technique when I invited my sister to my studio so that I could have more time to capture a pose. When drawing, recoginizing shape, form, and tone, were done by setting my palette based on contrast. I picked colours based on a gradation of tones, unrecognizable through the use of a colour by name but the tones truest to the the subject and its environment.

 

 

The drawings turned out well. They were done with chalk on black paper and you can tell that the lighting allowed me to see my sister in a great level of contrast.


 

When the Thursday morning came and the time for my suggestion to be used for the morning class, my professor, John, helped me put the pose together and we placed the light directly overhead. The model was my favorite for that day and I was very excited to share this new perception with my classmates. As the lights were turned off, there was a churning of sound and movement. It spun around me like a massive storm reaching a crescendo as the class grew louder. They were all saying the same thing over and over again: "I can't see my palette.” chimed in rounds like a rolling storm front. "Turn on the lights! Turn on the lights!"

 

The lights came on and John walked over to me and shruged his shoulders. "Sorry."

 

It was as simple as that. To me the sorry was dismissive. What does that even mean? Sorry no one can put themselves in my shoes? Or even, “sorry” seemed to mean - you get your vision back because it was inconvenient to change your perspective.

 

I did not voice these thoughts and simply knew that I could not expect that anyone would understand. That was okay, that was the way of the world and I was a part of that world.

 

However, it did set me on the path I travel today. Creating a form of art education that would be accessible and limitless in process and discipline became my goal.

 

And It"s all worked out. :)

Parenting Survival of the Fittest

Posted by Yvonne Felix on December 4, 2014 at 1:00 PM Comments comments (0)

For anyone, having your first child can be exciting and overwhelming all at the same time. The anticipation of a new person you are bringing into the world is unbearable, but at the same time you have a million things to prepare for. I think there is one common thread that everyone does worry about before the arrival; what kind of parent am I going to be?

 

When you are living with vision loss, while your list of concerns may be the same as everyone else, the reasoning behind the concerns is definitely different.

 

When I had my first son, I was so worried about the fact that I was not going to have the ability to take him to a library and pick out books. This lead me down a path of endless wondering. How was I going to teach my children to live in a sighted world when I could teach them nothing about sight!

 

Eye contact is crucuial for the development of an infant but how was I going to communicate that if I could not even see thier face? I was not alone in my parenting, but as the primary care giver, I had to reach out into the community and outside of my comfort zone to make sure that he was getting everything he needed, in terms of visual development. More often than not, he would ask about sounds he heard rather than things he saw. Surprisingly, he actually did learn to start reading earlier than most kids, perhaps out of necessity.

 

There were also moments of anxiety that I am sure most parents also have but I am not sure, again, it was for the same reasons: "Is my baby breathing?" passed through my mind a million times a day. So I sat with him laying on my chest, in fact, he slept that way for the first six months of his life. I could only feel that breath, I could never sit back and watch him sleep in a craddle, I could not see that far - even a foot away.

 

I am very excited that my sister will never have to experience these thoughts for the same reasons I did. She will have the opportunity to watch her son develop and grow with the normal concerns of a parent. With the advancement of technology, she will be changing the face of what parenting means for the partially sighted.

 

 

What Does it Mean to Be Legally Blind

Posted by Yvonne Felix on November 13, 2014 at 7:30 PM Comments comments (1)

Just to warn anyone reading, this is written as a stream of conciouness and there is very little editing onvolved. 


Since the age of seven I have lived with the diagnosis of being Legally Blind. I choose to use the words "I am" as opposed to "I have " for several reasons.


It actually does not define me which may be a confusing statement when using the phrase ; I Am Legally Blind;. Bare with me as I try to articulate this position.


Living with a blind spot your entire life not only affects your vision but also plays a huge role as to how your brain encodes the world around you. When you are a child and a parent or educational figure telss you the letter ;T; is a stick with another stick laying across the top of  another stick and visually demonstrates how this letter is created, there is instantly a language created to describe of two very  concrete realities. That "t; in the world of a child with partial sight is acually a fuzzy, upside down capital ;L; that only exists when it is two inches infront of thier face written in a 24 point font. For the teacher or parent showing the child the letter from ten feet away on a sign or black board it actually does not exist at all  to the child with vision loss. 


Imagine your entire world is formed by a language you can barelyy understand Unfortunately the only way for you to survive is to pretend you know exactly what is going on to make it easier on everyone around you. You are seven years old and you feel bad about everything that happens. Feelings of guilt that people want to help but they just do not know how.


Imagine spending the first ten years of your life missing crucial non verbal communication skill building activities. Going to school where all of your classmates actually want to make friends but you are excluded because you miss that simple look of eagerness and curiosity. You think everyone hates you and they think you are a snob. 


Then when it comes to school work all you really have are your ears to understand what is going on. No books, technology or even educational support from staff to take the time to help because there just isn't anything available like that at your school board.  Your entire world of what you are supposed to be learning with your peers becomes obscured and abstract. Trying to follow is like trying to run an uphill marathon on an escalator that has no start or finish. 


The best patr is there is no escape.


I am a mother, I am a woman, a am a sister ....and.....I am Legally Blind. 


I am also fortunate enough to have the ability to have more sight through the use of technology as well. It has been a two year journey so far and I am beginning to slowly change. I can feel aspects of my undstanding of the visual affect major parts of my relationships with friends and family. Sometimes growth can be a terrifying thing and I want to hold on to everything I already know. At the same time I want to get to know a world that I don't, it is like learning about a new culture. I new planet Earth really. It is unbeleivable how connected our vision is to every part of our existance. Don't confuse this understanding i HAve for a put down of not having the ability to use technology or treatments that restore sight. It is my choice to experience this and I know not everyone in the world can have that opportunity.


My art is changing...How I look at the world is changing....I would like to share this with people in the hopes that we can accept our fellow human for who they are. We all have our own paths to walk but we walk in paralell to one another our entire lives. Sometimes our paths may cross but there is nothing stopping us from watching how we each take our course on this journey.


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