My Heart Is Not Blind

On Blindness & Perception

My Heart Is Not Blind – A Photography & Audio Exhibition

… brings light into the dark misperceptions about blindness. For the last 7 years Michael has been listening to men and woman who are blind and visually impaired. Blindness doesn’t make someone less intelligent, less capable, less competent. Many become more courageous and determined. Perception and adaptation are deeper than we can imagine and much more mysterious. Through the gift of images and presence, each eloquent voice draws us into deeper understanding.

Currently On View:

Witte Museum, San Antonio Texas
January 5 – March 31, 2019


Artist Statement

Not all blind people are blind. Not all sighted people can see. Knowing what the world looks like is not a requirement for understanding. Over the last seven years I have been listening to men and women who are blind or visually impaired. It’s been a rare privilege to have these deep and personal conversations. My ears saw much more than my eyes.

As a result of blindness, what have they found out about their other senses? How can new meaning be extracted from familiar sounds? How is perception increased from a cultivation of attention? Why does the general public carry such prejudice?

This exhibition is about the experience of blindness and visual impairment, but also about the nature of perception and human adaptation. It is about what we have in common, and the fragility that is a part of our shared human condition.

Blindness is not what the public thinks it is. For many, darkness and change are deeply frightening. Whenever I hear any sighted person speak of blindness, it is always about limitations. The conversations are rarely about competency or newfound perspectives. When something is taken away, often something else takes its place.

Each person I met who lost his or her eyesight after having vision went through an initial period of depression and desperation. Language seems so inadequate to describe such early seasons of despair. The first year of blindness is extremely different from long-term adaptation. Neuroplasticity is the remarkable story that supports the brain’s ability to reorganize itself to favor non-visual thinking and orientation.

When a person loses sight, he or she remains a whole, vibrant individual. They do not lose their intelligence, personalities, personal histories, and all the egalitarian promises of equal rights. Many become more courageous and determined. Burns Taylor lost his vision at age three when his older brother, age nine, shot him in the face. He has been a university professor and author. He describes his essential questions of existence: “How do you learn to live with something that society makes you feel ashamed of; makes you feel that you are not as capable and not whole? That’s something that I have to live with every day.”

Perception is deeper than we can imagine and more mysterious. Our other senses have their own wisdom separate from sight. Voices expose sincerity and character. Sounds are not just sounds but have origins and destinations. Memory awakens and tilts. What becomes more sensitive is awareness from a cultivation of attention.

To understand another person requires a shift in perspective. I hope visitors who spend time with these wonderful people will be as moved as I have been.

Marti Hathorn spoke emphatically about being fully present in her life. “I wouldn’t describe seeing as being a better sense than any of the others. People ignore their other senses. So much is missed. How would I answer someone who says, “Why travel if you can’t see? My response to them would be, “Why do anything?” Experience is not just visual. It’s feeling emotion. Tactile. It’s smelling. It’s listening. There are so many ways to experience moments to their fullest.”

Michael Nye

Special appreciation to Albert and Bessie Mae Kronkosky Charitable Foundation.
The San Antonio Lighthouse & the remarkable Mike Gilliam. And deepest gratitude to my assistant Alexei Wood.

 

Retinopathy of Prematurity      Brain Aneurysm     Peter’s Anomaly     Car bomb explosion     Detached Retinas     Scarlett Fever     Charles Bonnet Syndrome Cone and Rod Dystrophy     Septo Optic Dysplasia     Struck by a Train     Liber’s Hereditary Optic     Neuropathy     Cancer of the Retinas     Gunshot     Retinitis Pigmentosa     Libers Congenital Amaurosis     Idiopathic Intracranial     Hypertension Diabetic     Retinopathy Choroideremia     Spinal Meningitis     Glaucoma Stevens-Johnson Syndrome     Birdshot chorioretinopathy     Cortical Blindness     Infantile Congenital Glaucoma     Leber’s congenital amaurosis     Osteoporosis-Pseudoglioma Syndrome     Macular Degeneration     X rare unknown causes


Click to enlarge and listen to Audio Excerpt
  • Ann
  • Burns
  • Chad
  • Christina & Weston
  • Dean
  • Ernest
  • Frances
  • George
  • Jeffrey
  • Juanito
  • Mario
  • Marti
  • Natalie
  • Olivia
  • Paloma
  • Ray
  • Richard
  • Robert
  • Sandhya
Click to enlarge and listen to Full Audio
  • Larry

Price: $35.00
Pages: 224
Size: 8 1/2 x 10
Published: Feb 2019, Trinity University Press
Status: Available
ISBN: 9781595348746
B&W photos: 66

Purchase

Exhibition Can Be Installed in Any Space – On Walls or Easels Installation:
There are 46 portraits and 46 audio narratives. Each of the participants speaks in his or her own voice. Mounted below each portrait is a wooden box containing an audio player and headphones. The stories range from 4 to 6 minutes each. Many sites have used this exhibit as the centerpiece for related programming including, lectures, panel discussions, student field trips, radio and other educational and fundraising activities.

Installation
This exhibit can be installed on walls in formal museums or galleries – or anywhere with the optional easel installation. The easel installation has been designed to hold the photographs, lights and audio components and have been installed in universities, libraries, galleries and conferences.

Photographs & Audio
All photographs were made using an 8 x 10 view camera. Photographs are black & white silver darkroom prints. Each image is mounted on 24” x 30” archival board and framed. Audio narratives were edited/mastered with the approval of each participant.

Cost & Availability
Please contact Michael Nye


I have heard many of the participants’ stories and have been profoundly moved by what I’ve heard. It is an experience in empathy. Being able to understand someone else. This project probes beneath the surface. Michael Nye’s questioning of us, his insight and commitment to this project caused us to search deeper and to bring out an awareness that we ourselves perhaps did not know we had. Those feeling, hopes, desires, even regrets which we have maybe buried for too long.

Larry Johnson – Author – Teacher and Columnist

This exhibition is extraordinarily moving. I’m mesmerized by the emotion and wisdom. I feel I’m experiencing what they have experienced. Michael Nye spent 6 years working on this project. These passionate, insightful narratives emerge from his close listening with each participant. This project will have immense, incredible impact on communities. I would encourage everyone and anyone of any age to experience it.

Mike Gilliam – President/CEO San Antonio Lighthouse for the Blind


History

Witte Museum Debut – San Antonio, Texas – January-March 2019