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Posts Tagged ‘cytomegalovirus retinitis’

Studio 360 interviewed a blind photographer the other day. He had not always been blind, and blindness has not stopped him from creating high-quality photographs, strange as that may seem. He gets by with a little help from his friends.

But then, which among us doesn’t?

“In 1994, a stroke left the young photographer John Dugdale nearly blind, and over the years since, he has lost the remainder of his vision. But has never stopped taking photographs.

“ ‘I have a few wonderful people in my life that I trust to help me create the pictures that I see in my mind’ Dugdale tells guest host [Studio 360] Alan Cumming. He insists on releasing the shutter on every photo he takes. ‘It’s the most sacred time in my life whenever that shutter opens and closes — and it’s also the only time I’m quiet.’ …

“Dugdale contracted HIV in the mid-1980s. In the early 1990s he became ill with cytomegalovirus retinitis, an eye infection common in HIV patients, and it accelerated quickly. ‘I didn’t tell anyone, because I thought through magical thinking maybe it would go away,’ Dugdale explains. ‘In a matter of weeks I lost one eye.’ A stroke left him paralyzed for a year and left him with about 20% of his vision. … ‘I’m alive because my mother brought me elbow macaroni with Parmesan cheese and beans every single day for a year.’

“When Dugdale was released from the hospital, he almost immediately began working again. He tells Alan that the photographs ‘poured like a libation out of a vase. I barely even felt like I was making them. They just made themselves.’ …

“ ‘Being blind is not what you think,’ Dugdale tells Alan, ‘it’s not all darkness. My optic nerve still works and shoots a beautiful ball of brightly colored orange and purple and violet light and sparkling flashes all the time.” More at Studio 360, here. Check out some of Dugdale’s work, which continues to be in demand by prominent collections.

Photo: John Dugdale
“Untitled, Self-Portrait with Teacups” 1994

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