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Charlie Murray at ROCA: Blind and Visually-Impaired Artists Share their "Visions of Awareness 

The artistic process can be conceived of as a mysterious journey that begins with the artist groping in the dark, searching. For many, the darkness is a metaphor, but for Charlie Murray, it is an everyday reality. Murray is legally blind.

Murray's "I Dream of Flying," is on view this month in "Visions of Awareness" at Rockland Center for the Arts (ROCA) along with works by other visually impaired, low-vision, and totally blind artists who are members of the Seeing with Photography Collective. "Visions of Awareness" expands our concept of art and art-making, challenging the very notion that the sense of sight is a prerequisite for creating visual art.

click to enlarge I Dream of Flying
  • I Dream of Flying

Murray is not totally blind—he can make out differences in light intensity, some patterns on clothing, and the overall posture of a figure. When photographing, he works with a sighted assistant who sets up a digital camera and frames the shot based on his concept.

"I just take pictures of what I feel," Murray says modestly. But there is more to it than that—he is at the heart of the process. His role is like that of an auteur who is both the director and the star of his own film. Murray is the figure portrayed in "I Dream of Flying"—with other members of the collective acting as his crew doing lighting, dressing the set, and giving feedback on the emerging image. Evgen Bavcar, another member of the group, says, "One can't belong to this world if one cannot imagine it in his own way. When a blind person says, 'I imagine,' it means he, too, has an inner representation of external realities."

"Visions of Awareness" will be on display at ROCA from October 13 to November 25 with an artists' reception on October 20, 2-5pm.

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