LIBBY SMITH IS A VISUALLY-IMPAIRED ARTIST BUT THAT DOES NOT STOP HER FROM DOING WHAT SHE LOVES
At Libby Smith’s “Magical Beings” at downtown Orlando’s Cityarts Factory, there is a 12-foot triptych. The three paintings together comprise a 12-foot landscape of lifeless tree trunks after a hurricane. “I saw these gorgeous dead trees,” said the artist. “And the art teacher I was with looked at me and said, ‘What are you doing? They’re dead.’”
When Smith completed the painting three years later in 2006, the art teacher returned. “He said, ‘I don’t see how you saw that.’”
But that’s the trick. Smith painted the piece one inch at a time. To her, it was a series of “beautiful lights and darks … And there were no leaves to mess it up for me.”
She has never seen the full piece.
The Orlando resident has lost 90 per cent of her vision due to a rare condition called pars planitis. The autoimmune disease causes inflammation in the back of the eye. “They say it’s like a cigarette smouldering behind the eye filled with little particles scratching the back of your eye up,” said Smith.
Smith is legally blind. Her eyesight is described as fingers at feet. On an eye chart, “I can’t see the big E,” she said.
Born in 1964, Smith says art was always the profession she was drawn to. The nuns at her private school in Palatka began submitting her art to contests. She says she won her first awards in fifth grade.
That was also the year