KQED Arts: Profile - Alice Wingwall
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"My vision comes from putting a lot of images together ... and that comes from the memory." -- Alice Wingwall
View Spark segment on Alice Wingwall
.Original airdate: May 2005.
Download VideoWhen noted photographer and sculptor Alice Wingwall began losing her sight, she became determined to continue making visual art.Now almost completely blind, Wingwall remains a vital visual artist, making lyrical and poignant photo-based works that often express her experience of being without sight.
Spark checks in on Wingwall
works on a new series of architectural photographs.Wingwall
suffers from retinitis pigmentosa, a hereditary degenerative disease of the eye.After all but losing her
perception of light a number of years ago, Wingwall
discovered that a great deal of her
experience of vision happens in her
mind.The brain is capable of representing line, color and perspective even without the help of eyesight.She
rarely photographs all alone -- she
asks colleagues, including her
husband, architect Donlyn Lyndon, to look through her
lens and describe what they see.During this collaborative process, she
"mind's eye" image and asks if the camera captures this view, using her
deep store of memory for other comparison points.
Along with her
relies to a great degree on her
other senses in making her
may feel the heat of the sun in order to get a sense of the strength and direction of the light source, and she
may similarly sense the reflected light radiating from her
often uses auto-focus cameras to capture images.In addition, she
uses an array of lenses intended to capture her
failing sight.Although a 50-millimeter lens renders an image close to what the human eye sees, Wingwall
is fond of using wider lenses and panoramic cameras that warp the image and represent her
newfound inner vision of the world.Several of Wingwall's photographs deal with her experience of working as a visual artist without the aid of sight.
Many of her
works feature architecture -- one of her
favorite subjects -- superimposed with images of her
guide dog, Slater, or his
predecessor, Joseph.These images highlight the ways in which her
negotiation of the world around her
is now mediated through another being, and the intimate relationship that that establishes between her
dogs.Alice Wingwall earned an M.F.A. in sculpture from UC Berkeley and was a professor of sculpture and director of the studio arts program at Wellesley College.She
has explored many different mediums, and she
trained in stained-glass fabrication in Paris.She
co-directed a film with Wendy Snyder MacNeil titled "Miss BlindSight/The Wingwall Auditions," which won Best Independent Film at the 25th anniversary New England Film and Video Festival.
Resources University of Oregon Museum of Natural History: Alice Wingwall's Rock Walk BAM/PFA: Blind at the Museum