Artist with low vision showcases life through paintings

Barbara Petersen began taking art classes at Clovernook Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired in 2008; and it was in her low-vision support group that her interest in a painting class was first piqued.
“That’s an area I had always been interested in but never had tried,” Petersen says. “[My instructor] Scott [Wallace] has me do large shapes and objects instead of real fine-detailed things like somebody with normal vision could maybe do. He adapts—he teaches what he teaches to everyone—but he adapts it to my visual impairment.”
Petersen was born with cataracts, which she had removed at the age of 3, but because of scar tissue, she’s unable to have lens implants.
Low vision, however, does not stop Petersen, though she says it does impact every area of her life.
“But painting has given me confidence, because when I first saw the big canvas [Wallace] gave me, I thought, ‘There’s no way I can fill this up,’” Petersen says. “And I started at the bottom corner on the right, and little by little, with the techniques he taught me, I was able to do more and more.”
Now Clovernook’s Willoughby Art Gallery will host a gallery opening featuring Petersen’s work, which includes a collection of acrylic paintings, in addition to large ceramic pieces and jewelry.
The title of her exhibit is "Love Lifted Me," and her works include a series of hearts to represent various aspects of her life.
“I’ve always loved the old hymn about how God’s love has always lifted us out of whatever valley we’re in. In addition to blindness, I had some issues with depression and things like that, and God was faithful to get me through that,” Petersen says.  “But I also have two heart conditions I’m dealing with, and one day, I was in the cardiologist’s office and saw a big poster, and I thought it was a painting of a heart, and I asked and they said, ‘Oh we’d rather see one of your paintings there than the poster,’ so that’s what gave me the idea to do a series of hearts.”

Do Good: 

• Like the Clovernook Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired on Facebook.

• Support Barbara Petersen by viewing or purchasing one of her pieces. Guests can visit the gallery from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and also by appointment.
• Support the Clovernook Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at both the University of Cincinnati and Xavier University. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

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