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The Vision & Art Project is a multifaceted initiative that gives greater visibility to the overlooked influence of vision loss from macular degeneration on historical and contemporary artists. It was started in 2013 by the American Macular Degeneration Foundation (AMDF).

Its mission is to ensure the legacy of individual artists with macular degeneration, to educate the public about macular degeneration and what it gives to art, to inspire a deeper respect for our profound capacity as human beings to adapt and change, and to make online art more accessible to those with low vision.

Macular degeneration is a treatable but as of yet incurable disease of the retina that can lead to partial or complete blindness. At least three in 10 Americans suffer from macular degeneration after the age of 75. The more aggressive type, known as wet macular degeneration, tends to rob its victims of sight more quickly than dry macular degeneration. Younger people, including children, can also be affected by a rare form of early-onset macular degeneration.

AMDF is a nonprofit organization committed to the prevention, treatment, and cure of macular degeneration, and empowering those with the disease to live to the fullest. AMDF educates patients and their families, funds the V&AP, and supports researchers focused on finding a cure.

It was founded by Chip Goehring when he was diagnosed with the disease almost thirty years ago at the age of 39. Goehring now serves as the president of AMDF.

  • We write about both contemporary and historical artists with macular degeneration, making all our research and writing free of charge on our website: vision org. We also conduct oral histories with outstanding contemporary artists with macular degeneration and compile biographies, which we show with examples of artists’ pre- and post-macular work in a curated online gallery.
  • We make short films that feature footage of artists with macular degeneration at work in their studios. Our first film about Lennart Anderson has been streamed by the New York Times and is available to screen on our site, as is our second film about Robert Andrew Parker. Our third and most recent film (2021), about artist Serge Hollerbach, has been shown at several film festivals and won a number of awards. We are almost done with our fourth film about kinetic sculptor Tim Prentice.
  • We develop art exhibitions that explore the intersection of vision loss and the making of art. Our first exhibition, The Persistence of Vision, at the University of Cincinnati (2018), presented over 50 early and late works by eight artists, who continued to work with vision loss due to macular degeneration.
  • We organize special events, such as film screenings at libraries, meant to draw attention to the artists we work with. In addition, we’ve worked with editors at art magazines to develop features about artists on our site. Finally, we support artists at what can be a challenging time in their lives by doing things such as digitizing their slides in order to make their work more widely available to the public.
  • Our most recent initiative involves making the images on the V&AP website and social media channels accessible to those with low vision by hand-writing alt text descriptions of the more than 600 images on our site. For more information on the importance (and current dearth) of hand-crafted alt-text, we would recommend this article at the New York Times.

Our work has been highlighted in many online and print publications, including:

The New York Times

  • “Artists Who Lose Their Vision, Then See Clearly,” by Serena Solomon
  • “Artists Who Lose Their Vision, Then See Clearly”

The Berkshire Eagle

“‘Maybe you learn to see with your fingers.’ Vision & Art Project helps artists with macular degeneration chronicle their work and the progression of the disease,” by Jane Kaufman

Artsy

  • “How Artists Fight Vision Loss and Continue to Make New Work,” by Claire Voon
  • “How Artists Fight Vision Loss and Continue to Make New Work”

Sixty-Six Magazine

  • “The Vision & Art Project Helps Artists with Sight Loss Fulfill Their Vision,” by Andy Smith
  • “The Vision & Art Project Helps Artists with Sight Loss Fulfill Their Vision”

Matthew Toffolo’s Wild Sound Blog

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