Edith Abeyta is a visual artist living in North Braddock, Pennsylvania. Her current practice is centered around people, identity and negotiating relationships with the built environment. This manifests as temporary installations, sculptures and experiential life events. She frequently collaborates with other visual artists, poets, scholars, and the public.
Abeyta has been working as an artist in residence with the Office of Public Art at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – Hazelwood since June 2014. Her work with Hazelwood residents has directly resulted in a multi-year project, Arts Excursions Unlimited, a free monthly arts excursions program, an art studio and temporary public art. Other residencies include the University of Utrecht, The Netherlands, the University of Burapha, Thailand, Pilgrim School, Los Angeles, and Windward School, Los Angeles. She was awarded a fellowship from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research in 2007. She has received public art commissions from the Arts Council for Long Beach and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. Her work has been exhibited at the Lakenhal Museum Lieden, the Netherlands, Burapha University Gallery, Thailand, Long Beach Museum of Art, the Craft and Folk Art Museum, Los Angeles and the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh.
I met Autumn, Clyde, Dave, Liz and Mike at the Westmoreland County Blind Association (WBCA). Amy, the executive assistant at the WCBA made arrangements for me to connect with the five of them after she and I exchanged emails and phone calls about collaborating on a public art project. The six of us along with one or two other staff met regularly to discuss the direction and content of the artwork.
At our first meeting I was told, “We are a silent group.” Autumn, Clyde, Dave, Liz and Mike each spoke of the challenges of having blindness and low vision. The difficulty for people who have vision to understand what their experiences are. The employment barriers. The unwillingness for others to make accommodations for them. They also shared their accomplishments. Their successes. Their triumphs. Their knowledge. Their strengths. And like many creative interlopers I did my best to listen, understand and represent with the limitations and skills and strengths I have to amplify their message, “Blind is More”, in a manner that did not contribute to their vulnerability. These portraits do not jeopardize their safety. They can be felt and handled and touched. And though some of us may focus on the shadows these representations project, others know that the light shines through these portraits just as the light shines through Autumn, Clyde, Dave, Liz and Mike.