Chuck Close has an almost photographic memory for things that are flat, but for 3 dimensional things that move around – things like faces – he is effectively blind. His work is built around his talent, and his disability. Through the detailed grids, Close can learn about the faces of people he cares about and commit them to memory. The portraits are his way of connecting to people.
This is one of the many examples showing why I get so danged giddy when someone says they have a limitation for the “normal” way of doing things. We all have limitations and challenges in various forms. It’s adaptations to these challenges that can inspire the most interesting and original creative responses. Creative responses are part of the magic in authentic and engaging artwork. So – what are your challenges?
Curious about what a man with face blindness can see? Check out the Radiolab interview below, featuring Chuck Close and Oliver Sacks. I love listening to them talk about their experiences. This interview is one of my favorites.
“When you’re this way, you have to find other avenues for your intelligence.” – Rauschenberg as quoted by Close
Oliver and Chuck–both born with the condition known as Face Blindness–have spent their lives decoding who is saying hello to them. You can sit down with either man, talk to him for an hour, and if he sees you again just fifteen minutes later, he will have no idea who you are. (Unless you have a very squeaky voice or happen to be wearing the same odd purple hat.) Chuck and Oliver tell Robert what it’s like to live with Face Blindness in a conversation recorded for the World Science Festival, and they describe two very different ways of coping with their condition (which may be more common than we think).
Player or link not working? CLICK HERE to go to Radiolab.