• Megann Horstead

Blind artist brings exhibit on light and dark to Joliet’s Gallery Seven


The world can oftentimes be viewed as a dark place to venture through alone, and some may find themselves disillusioned by their circumstances.

In the case of two artists seeking to confront the plight of light and dark, the idea of disability is nothing but a diagnosis.

Gallery Seven in Joliet is hosting a two-person art exhibit “Enlightening: A Show of Color in the Dark.” The showcase features the artwork of Joliet resident Dr. Rita Rogan, a clinical psychologist, and John Bramblitt, of Venton, Texas, an artist who is blind.

Rogan said the idea for the exhibit came to light after reading Bramblitt’s “Shouting in the Dark: My Journey Back to the Light.”

“It just opens up an entirely new space in your world,” she said.

In doing so, Rogan sent Bramblitt an email inquiring about the idea of bringing his eye for art to Joliet. A week and a half later and much to her surprise, the original idea for a one-person exhibit started to evolve into a two-person show.

Rogan noted how her curiosity for learning about the inner workings of the mind sparked her longtime passion for the arts, which is exhibited in the showcase.

“The odd intersection here is with the paintings that I’m exhibiting are nocturnes,” she said. “There is a challenge for an artist to find ways to paint the night; paint in the dark. Here are the two of us both painting in the dark having really brightly colored paintings.”

Bramblitt said it is hoped the exhibit touches the lives of others, regardless of what challenges they face.

“Everybody has things they can do and they can’t do,” he said. “The wonderful thing about art is that it makes you focus on the things you can do.”

After losing his vision, Bramblitt used to feel as though there was a disconnect between himself and the rest of the world. But now, he said he feels more connected to others.

In 2001, Bramblitt lost his eyesight due to experiencing complications with epilepsy. He stopped making artwork, and said he started experiencing some anger and depression during this time.

Bramblitt started to reclaim his artistic stroke about a year later, which he credits for helping him feel better.

“I started drawing in a way that I can feel the lines,” he said, describing the way in which he has adapted his creative process to allow him to paint without eyesight.

With one hand, he uses his sense of touch to distinguish between the textures of various colors. With the other, he paints.

He added that he began focusing more on the paint at the end of the brush, and stopped thinking about what he’d lost or worrying about the future.

“It forced me to look at life in a different sort of way,” he said. “There’s more color in my life than ever.”

Rogan said she hopes that the people who view their work will find inspiration.

“I think that John Bramblitt is helping us to see something that we had not seen before,” she said.

#art #Joliet

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