Sarah Wilson Statement

Artist Statement
Blind Prom

For the students at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, prom night is a momentous occasion. This year I offered my services as the prom photographer for TSBVI. From the moment the girls began trying on their dresses in the dorm rooms, till the last dance at midnight, I was there taking pictures, fully immersed in a familiar teenage excitement and energy. For many of the kids this was the most formal event they’d ever attended. It was Prom- and it was a big deal.

I was introduced to the blind community in 2005 when I began working as a stills photographer and field producer on the PBS-funded film, The Eyes of Me, a documentary about four students at the Texas School for the Blind. Over the last three years, I have gotten to know many of the students at the school and their experiences have challenged my ideas about what it means to have a disability.

People have asked me why I am photographing blind teenagers if they are never going to see the images. I have to remind them that these pictures will be shared with parents and friends – and the students certainly appreciated having somebody there to document how great they looked in their tuxes and tiaras. Of all the events I have photographed at the Texas School for the Blind, I believe that the images from prom night have a universal appeal, and could become a medium for consideration and understanding of what life might be like as a blind teenager. The time I’ve spent with the kids at school has convinced me that my own preconceptions about people with disabilities needed to be challenged, and with this project, Blind Prom, I hope to challenge the preconceptions of others.

Process Statement
The Blind Prom images were shot with a Canon 5D digital camera, with an assistant holding an additional remote flash for accent lighting. For the prom portraits, I used studio lighting, and photographed the attendees in front of a backdrop I painted especially for the occasion. The theme that night was “Enchanted Gardens”.

Prints are made with archival pigment ink on rag paper for exhibition and print sales.

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