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Erika Marie York

b. 1990

Born in Washington, D.C. to artist parents, Erika Marie York was in elementary school when she began to lose her vision to Stargardt’s disease. With her parents’ encouragement, she took art classes and workshops when she was growing up. She credits this experience with giving her confidence in her ability to make art despite a vision impairment.

York invested herself in becoming an artist after graduating from Smith College with a sociology degree in 2012. Her first shows have been exhibitions organized by Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind. In conjunction with an exhibition at the H-Space Gallery in D.C. (2017), she was featured in the Washington Post.

York feels that art has to do with sharing one’s perspective, which isn’t dependent on perfect vision. As she says in an interview with the Vision & Art Project (2020): “I don’t understand what being able to see has to do with it, because even if a person were completely blind, they’d still be able to create art from their perspective. Creating art isn’t only for able-bodied people.”

Largely shaped by her eye condition, her distinctive painting style—which includes large canvases, bold lines, bright colors, and figures often lacking facial features or wearing glasses—is inspired by what she sees.

Erika Marie York
Photo courtesy of The Washington Post / Getty Images
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