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New gallery showcases visually impaired artists, proves creativity has no boundaries

New gallery showcases visually...

Creativity can be expressed in many different ways, by many different people. Take, for example, artwork created by the visually impaired. The McPherson Eye Research Institute at UW-Health is showcasing those exact pieces in a new gallery.

"When we think about people who are blind or visually impaired, we often make the assumption that they can't do art," said Denise Jess, CEO for Wisconsin Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Jess collaborated with UW-Health to make sure these artists don't go unnoticed. 

"We can show creativity to the world, that's a tremendous gift. These pieces help show the creativity that lives in each artist and helps the viewer understand what living with visual impairment means," Jess said.

The gallery's featured artist is Mauston resident, Albert Schmiege. To him, painting has become much more than a hobby.

"A lot of my art is inspired by something that starts in my  mind and a lot of times what I intend to put on the canvas kind of takes on a life of its own, and it turns into something else all together," Schmiege said.

The challenge, though, is his degenerative eyesight. 

"It started when I was 24-, 25-years-old and from there it just progressed to the point that my central vision totally left me," Schmiege said.

However, it doesn't keep him from doing what he loves most.

"It gives me a sense of control. A sense of being able to create something, despite my visual impairment," Schmiege said.

You can find three of Schmiege's pieces hanging inside the McPherson Eye Research Institute, along with artwork by five other artists, until May 25. 

There will be a free closing reception from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. May 25, and everyone is welcome to attend.


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