Future Reflections Summer 1992, Vol. 11 No. 3

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AN EYE FOR ART

Editor's Note: The following article by David Halbrook appeared in the Times-Call, Longmont, Colorado, Sunday, January 26, 1992. It was recently reprinted in the Braille Spectator, the newsletter of the NFB of Maryland.

An Eye for Art, Woman Brings Unique Vision to Gallery
                        by David Halbrook

     Several years ago, Tina Blatter tumbled into an artistic crisis. Fretful that her future hinged on duplicating the style of other painters, Blatter punished herself to render an exact likeness of the world around her. It wasn't a pleasant chore for someone legally blind since birth and able only to discern vague outlines of her subjects. Then a photographer gave her a revelation.

     "This woman spent thousands of dollars on camera lenses to distort things," Blatter recalled. "She said, `You can do it naturally, so why try to make everything perfect?' It was one of those things that really influenced me. It gave me permission to be myself and not try to make everything real realistic."

     To behold Blatter's work--her exhibit is on display through February at the Lafayette Art Center, 101 S. Public Road--is to experience life in the abstract. It is to see and feel familiar objects and scenes jolted from normal context. It is art that commands full attention of the senses.

     Employing all manner of media--smooth stones, rhinestone stars and half-moons, stained glass paper-mache, flower petals and pine needles--Blatter calls it two-dimensional, or tactile art.

     "I'm very aware of colors and things around me, and I try to be creative and imaginative as opposed to literal in how I see things in my art," she said. "I didn't come to the idea of tactile art until I was an adult because we learn from an early age we're not supposed to touch things.

     "I find children and blind people really enjoy it because most galleries and museums forbid us to feel things. A blind friend recently went to a museum and came back saying, `Wow, I counted 18 glass cases.'"

     A new resident of Colorado, Blatter divides her time between creating and marketing her art and teaching the county's blind at Boulder's Center for People with Disabilities. It is a good mix, she said, for supporting oneself full-time as an artist in a new setting takes patience--and energy. Often she must load herself and her art onto a bus to market it at galleries across the Front Range.

     Now uniquely her own, Blatter's style evolved, surprisingly, from a study of Henri Matisse. "Matisse was going blind in the late stages of his career," she said. "He found it easier to cut pieces of paper to create his art. That gave me the idea of cutting petals out of foil and ribbon to help me see colors and shapes. I later learned that many of the early impressionists, like Monet, had sight impairments. They just painted what they saw."

     "I spend a lot of time educating gallery owners about blindness. Only later can we meet on the common ground of art," she said. "Certainly I'd like to someday be viewed as an artist first. Then maybe the headlines won't always say `Blind Artist.'"

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