John Bramblitt, an accomplished painter who lost his vision as a young man, visited the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine this week to share his inspirational story about how art not only helped him cope, but also enabled him to discover a whole new way of living. His presentation was part of a weeklong celebration of Vision Awareness Days, sponsored by the Voice of the Blue Ridge.
While art was always a major part of Bramblitt’s life, it was not until he lost his sight in 2001 that he began to paint. “Art reshaped my life,” he said.
Bramblitt’s paintings take their inspiration mostly from real-life events. His workshops are unique in the art world not only because they span the gap between beginning and professional artists, but also because they include adaptive techniques for artists with disabilities.
Bramblitt’s work has received much recognition, including the “Most Inspirational Video of 2008” from YouTube and three Presidential Service Awards for his innovative workshops. His art has been sold in more than 20 countries, and he has appeared internationally in print, radio, and television.
“We are honored to have John Bramblitt as part of our Vision Awareness Days,” said Jan Smyth, executive director of Voice of the Blue Ridge, a nonprofit organization devoted to enriching the lives of people with vision impairments. “His artistic talent coupled with his positive, can-do outlook on life will be an inspiration to all.”
“John Bramblitt’s artistic ability is extraordinary,” said Dr. David Trinkle, associate dean for community and culture at the school. “Even more so is his ability to inspire others — both with and without disabilities. Art can enhance a person’s adaption to illness as well as promote recovery. John’s message reinforces this holistic, patient-centered approach to health care that we teach our students.”
As part of Vision Awareness Days, at 1 p.m on June 29, the public will have a chance to watch Bramblitt at work as he paints to live music performed by a small ensemble at the Taubman Museum of Art. The work that he creates from this event will be displayed as part of the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine’s upcoming art exhibit, “Creativity and Mental Health,” which opens July 18.
Written by Catherine Doss.