Artists with Macular Degeneration – Three Films Highlight Creative Perseverance with Vision Loss

Old-school film reel with film stills featuring artists with macular degeneration, Robert Andrew Parker, Serge Hollerbach, and Lennart Anderson. Text above and below reads, "Three artists, creating in the face of vision loss"

In honor of AMD Awareness Month 2023, The Vision & Art Project put together a playlist of the films they have produced on three different artists with age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

In their words, “As a whole, these artists’ stories inspire a deeper respect for and understanding of the profound capacity of humans to remain creative and vital in the face of adversity and loss.”

Each film focuses on the history of each artist’s work, weaving in the vision loss from macular degeneration that impacts their work and how they’ve adapted.

Serge Hollerbach – A Russian Painter in New York

“I think partial loss of vision freed me from attention to detail.” – Serge Hollerbach

In this short, award-winning documentary, the Russian emigre painter Serge Hollerbach (Nov 1, 1923 – Feb 19, 2021) creates two paintings, separated in time by a period of four years during which he has visibly aged and his vision has declined. While painting, he discusses art, his displacement during World War II, building a new life in New York City, and how vision loss has affected his ability to paint.

Lennart Anderson – Seeing With Light

In Seeing with Light, the artist Lennart Anderson (August 22, 1928 – October 15, 2015) works on a portrait of his friend and fellow artist, Kyle Staver, as he discusses his life and work. Though he struggles to see her, he is determined to continue his life-long interest in portraiture. First released on Oct. 30, 2014, it was one of our first major projects at the Vision & Art Project.

It’s not until 8 minutes in that it becomes apparent Lennart is working with vision loss, as you see him position his eyes inches away from his canvas and tilt his head in order to see what he’s working on. This moment is a breathtaking illustration of the artist’s perseverance.

Robert Andrew Parker – A is for Artist

In A Is for Artist, the Connecticut-based artist and illustrator Robert Andrew Parker talks about the impossibility for him of a life without painting and how he ‘keeps on keeping on’ by embracing the inevitable changes that vision loss has brought to his work.

About the Vision & Art Project

The Vision & Art Project is an AMDF-supported project that chronicles the intersection between macular degeneration and the arts.

From the Vision & Art Project’s website: “Our mission at the Vision & Art Project is to give greater visibility to the overlooked influence of vision loss from macular degeneration on historical and contemporary artists. We strive to ensure the legacy of individual artists, to educate the public about macular degeneration, vision, and art, and to inspire a deeper respect for the human capacity to adapt and change. Our hope is that the work we present provides incontrovertible evidence that, even with compromised eyesight, the visual world remains beautiful and within reach.”

12 responses to “Artists with Macular Degeneration – Three Films Highlight Creative Perseverance with Vision Loss”

  1. Cheryl Edwards Avatar
    Cheryl Edwards

    I admire these artists greatly and relate to what they are dealing with. I am an accomplished pianist and am devastated that I have recently been diagnosed with wet MD in both eyes.Reading sheet music has been a challenge! I purchased magnifying glasses with LED lights in the frames,and that has helped somewhat. I only hope better treatment is on the horizon. Thank you so much for the emails on AMD !

    1. AMDF Avatar

      Cheryl, you’re very welcome! We’re glad you were able to relate to these artists, and hope that you continue to find ways to play piano. Have you reached out to any low vision occupational therapists in your area? They specialize in training you to use your remaining vision differently, and in finding the right technologies and gadgets that will help you continue to do as much of what you love as possible.

  2. PAMELLA Avatar

    I am so inspired by the people who share their life stories doing what they love most through art. It gives me hope and determination to keep on with eye treatments even though there is no cure. I am most grateful to the message they bring that you will manage to find a way to keep enjoying the things you cherish. Thank You

    1. AMDF Avatar

      Pamella, thank you for your comment. So very glad to hear that you found these stories inspiring. May you too find a way to keep enjoying the things you cherish!

  3. Duncan Mackintosh Avatar
    Duncan Mackintosh

    Listening / watching these men create art has been a remarkable and profound experience. As I too paint, I find it reasonable that I will continue to draw from their experience. Although I have been diagnosed with macular degeneration, I am in the early stages. What I bring away from this experience, especially due to my father suffering from MD, is an understanding, a belief of how much we need to move along with the disease and be as creative as we can be. Sadly, my father died soon after he lost his sight….with a broken heart and a broken spirit.

    1. AMDF Avatar

      Thank you so much for taking a moment to comment and tell your story! Very sorry to hear about your father. That’s very sad. It sounds like you are determined to live a different story for yourself. We’re glad that these films are inspiring to you!

  4. Susan Logan Avatar
    Susan Logan

    Thank you for these portraits of artists. Each one revealed an appreciation of beauty, balance and enjoyment of the effort to create. I especially enjoyed the music.

    1. AMDF Avatar

      So glad you found interest and inspiration in these films Susan! And thank you for taking a moment to let us know. 🙂

  5. Janet Ouradnik Avatar
    Janet Ouradnik

    It’s inspiring to watch as these men continue to struggle through their MD to create –as much to breathe in order to survive. It’s far easier to dwell in self pity rather than forge on with head held high but the latter is far more desirable to digest. My hope is to be as brave as these men as each year brings a little less light than the year before. Thank you for these beautiful testimonials.

    1. AMDF Avatar

      A beautiful sentiment Janet. It is the perseverance of spirit that is so inspiring, no matter the particular activity. Wishing you well on your journey!

  6. Wilma Procter Avatar
    Wilma Procter

    Thank you so much for sharing these videos as they were awe inspiring. I was diagnosed with Dry MD and it has been increasingly difficult for me to continue my work on the computer as well as reading my Bible and helping my granddaughter with homework. My eyes are increasingly watery and blurry but doc says they’re ok and to continue the supplement. Prayerfully, there will be new developments in MD in the very near future.

    1. AMDF Avatar

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts! Very glad you found inspiration and hope in these stories.

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