Our current exhibition, The Chicago Project IV, ends next week, so get in here and see the show! In the meantime, enjoy two images by Chicago Project artist, Charlie Simokaitis, along with his artist statement. If you’d like to learn more about his work, visit the show page and click on the film clapper next to his images.
“In this ongoing project entitled Fade to White, I make portraits of people who are blind or visually impaired. I solicit my models with the help of institutions such as The Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind and the Oklahoma League for the Blind. Upon learning about the project through these agencies, the individuals contact me to be photographed. The range of visual acuity among the portrait subjects is diverse, some have impairment but with some degree of vision, others with no vision whatsoever. During the sessions I attempt to describe to the sitter how he or she appears through the ground glass – a humbling experience as some of my subjects have been blind since birth and have never seen their own faces. Photographing “the blind,” has its roots in street photography and has often, historically, involved some form of subterfuge, which allowed the photographer to capture the image without the subject being aware of his or her presence. My response to this practice is to collaborate with my sitters. The sessions often include discussions of the ways in which one expects blind people to be depicted in photographs. In 2000 my infant daughter was diagnosed with a genetic condition that is expected to cause near or total blindness. When I began to observe signs of her visual deterioration, I initiated this project to familiarize myself with the life experiences of the blind and to translate these experiences into visual forms.” —Charlie Simokaitis