Meet The One-Eyed Artist: EllieCondition: Glaucoma and cataracts which led to the loss of sight in her left eye.
What term or descriptive do you use to refer to your vision impairment?
- My glaucoma and cataracts combination resulted in me losing sight in my left eye all together, so I refer to myself as a cyclops as a way of making light of the situation. I’ve made it a part of my identity as the “one eyed” artist and it’s been really fun to play with that narrative.
What obstacles have you been able to overcome despite your vision impairment?
- There’s so many! The biggest one is driving. Growing up (I lost my sight around age 10) I just never saw operating a vehicle a part of my future. Ultimately, I took the driver’s test and I can remember that moment being the most scared I had ever been. The instructor noticed, saw my notes, called me a pirate, which made me cry. I think he was trying to make a funny joke to lighten the situation but I was about to drive a car on the freeway for the first time with one working eyeball so it was just bad timing lol. I’ve been a licensed driver for over 10 years now, and while some times of the day are really difficult (driving at night, lack of depth perception, not the greatest combination), I try not to let my lack of vision keep me from experiencing life. Although, I do rely on Uber a lot more these days!
- Painting can also be difficult because it’s hard to tell when the brush actually hits the canvas but when the project is finally finished, I am so proud of myself for pushing through.
Given the challenges associated with your vision, of which accomplishments are you most proud?
- Really just persevering through all the bullying I endured when I was younger. Continuing to create and elevate my art both on canvas and through makeup. I always get compliments on my makeup skills and when they ask how I learned, It’s honestly due to losing my sight! I wanted people to focus on the artistry versus the wandering eye. The more I distracted them with glitter and eyeliner, they more beautiful I felt and less un-even. These days, I don’t care as much about my wandering eye but thanks to it not staying symmetrical with the other, I taught myself how to do makeup really well.
What's one piece of advice you'd give to someone that is blind or visually impaired?
- Have patience with yourself and don’t be too stubborn to ask for help. Also, understand that not everyone will realize you have a vision impairment and if you don’t acknowledge them and they get upset, that’s their problem not yours. Almost everyday someone will get annoyed with me because they think I am ignoring them but, really, it’s because they’re on my bad side! We all just need to be more understanding and empathize as much as possible. You never know what someone else is going through, or even if they can see you. Sorry, that was 3 pieces!
What's your favorite daily living tip that would be helpful for others?
- Lately I’ve been giving myself time to decompress and forgive myself if I go too slow. Be it walking, driving, or even getting out of the house in the morning. Being half blind, sometimes I can’t tell if there’s a step or if the floor is flat so going fast is unappealing. This can be translated to life in general I feel, because you gotta give yourself time to experience things. Living in a western society, we are taught to always hustle and having multiple jobs is admired. Lack of sleep means you’re doing really well because you’re working on your craft or making more money but we all need to slow down a little bit and give the machine a rest. Don’t burn out before you find your joy!
What else would you like our readers to know?
- That I at one point was very mean to myself. Now, I find that people are a lot less judgmental and through social media there has been great representation of people with various disabilities and physical challenges. We are now a community with quick access to education, which lessens the stigma around being blind. If you’re insecure or shy about any type of physical difference you feel you might have, know that you simply existing and enjoying life can literally give someone out there a sliver of hope to do the same. One of my favorite quotes from a movie called “Party Monster” is “If you have a hunchback, just put a little glitter on it honey, go dancing!” Celebrate yourself every chance you get.
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