The Blind Art Teacher

It's a few minutes after one in the afternoon.  Twenty-eight people, strangers to one another, are sitting on uncomfortable stools scattered among the easels of a large art studio classroom.  The mood is expectant.  It is the first day of class at Macomb Community College.
 At the far end of the room, a old man wearing dark glasses enters  with a white cane tentatively testing his path and begins to make his way slowly through the tangle of obstacles.  His cane encounters a leg, stops, mumbles an apology, probes a clear way around and carefully continues.  People in his path move back to let him pass.  Eventually, he encounters the blackboard wall opposite the entrance. He stops, hangs his cane on the chalk tray, fumbles along the tray until he finds a piece of yellow chalk and writes on the board, "ART 106. Beginning Drawing. T. Th. 1-4 pm Prof. J. Pallas."  He turns around, and, facing a point high on the back wall, says, "Good afternoon.  Welcome to Beginning Drawing Class. I'm Professor Pallas and at this first meeting, I want to tell you about this course."

At class end that day, he said everything he does in class is about the class.  He said, "Many of you thought you were in a visual art class taught by a blind person yet you stayed.  Your first assignment: is to respond in some way to the beginning of the class.  The response can take any form."

Below are some responses from the students.

....Without sight a teacher gives his students the ability to create freely without being judged by the most biased of the senses, sight.....

Shaunna J.

. is not only a visual medium, but something you experience and live...something for all the senses.
Art is not just a "thing", but a reaction from your mind and body.

Jonathon K

On August 25, 2000, I entered an art room full of students and art. I saw
a pigs head, drawings of people and all kinds of neat stuff.
Around 10 minutes after 1:00 p.m. a man walks into our classroom. He looked
like he was drunk, but he wasn't. He was bumping into chairs, and students..
I personally thought it was amusing. He was holding a cane and also acting
as he was blind. This man then walked into the chalk board and then erased
the writing on the board, without looking at the writing, so some of the
writing was still on. Right after that he started to write the course name
and his name over the writing he forgot to erase.
The question I ask myself is why is he doing that? Well it took me a lot
of thinking for why he is doing this. I finally came up with a conclusion. I
think he did this is because he wanted to show us his own strength and
weaknesses. First he showed us he showed us that he was a weird ,
didn't-care-type of teacher, which confused the students.
Most of us students thought to ourselves (excuse my language) " Damn, this teacher is Messed Up." And then towards the end of the class he showed us what kind of person he really is. So by the end us students said to ourselves.
" Wow, this teacher is great."
I guess the MORAL of this whole act at the beginning of the class tells us
that. (well as my point of view) "Don't Judge a person by their first impression"

Nelson Pagaduan

The Myth of the Blind Drawing Teacher

    Behold!  Students' imprisioned in a world of illusion:  Believing without
questioning  that the images they see before them speak of the truth.
Because, the drawing teacher enters the room appearing as a blind man,
"so it must be", they whisper amongst themselves.  Further contemplation may
have led the students' to doubt the logic of such a reality.  But, having
been brought up since childhood to accept the supposed limits of their
universe, they refuse to allow themselves by their own reasoning and
intellect-to become enlightened.  And, so it was...not the blind drawing
teacher who lived in darkness, but the unseeing students'.

Ann Nichols.

....Art can be "seen"
with all the senses. Being able to visualize a piece of
work with your eyes does not always mean
you can see all that is being conveyed
through that work.
I actually thought it would be cool to have an
art class be taught by a blindman because to me
it might have given a deeper meaning
to the work being done.
A blindperson would have to use his or her
other senses to know what was being created.
So here's my question :
Could you teach the class if you were blind
would it be just as easy as it is
now for you?

Kai B.

...Professor Pallas came into the room several minutes after 1pm.  Those extra
minutes sitting on the most uncomfortable seat I have been on all day gave
me a chance to look around the entire room  and to look at all the faces of
the classmates .A few thoughts...  as he came in the reaction on some of the
faces of my fellow students caused me to realize the fact that there were
more than a few assholes there, but I probably should reserve judgement, they
were young and have potential.  Others were hard to read because their faces
were sort of blank, and some of them looked eager.  But I did notice that
everyone was paying attention and focused on the professor  including me.
It never occurred to me that there would be a problem with a blind professor.  I
knew I was going to be taught drawing  in a way that would use all my
thoughts and senses from a perspective that I usually don't use.....

Gayle Foradori.

   .... I believe that a blind man would teach an art class because he could feel
free to use colors and draw things that only he knew what they were.  Maybe
orange to us would be yellow to him, or the sun could be the moon.  The blind
man could use and teach art through the imagination. Although he could never
check or grade his students work, he may be able to have them grade their own
work based on imagination.  Art has so many forms that one just wouldn't be
correct.  Therefore the teacher would not only be teaching that you can
accomplish anything with even extreme handicaps but that the imagination is a
form of art.

Leanne D.

Why would a blind man teach an art class? PASSION: He lost his sight not the passion that made him an artist. INSANITY: this guy must be crtazy to think he can do this. DRIVE: Some people do not quit. LOVE OF TEACHING: The man lost his sight. Not the satisfaction of sharing his knowledge. DON'T NEED NO STINKING SIGHT; He's teaching it! It's the students who need to see. what they're doing.

Bonnie McLain

   .....We, as students, are the truly blind ones.

Cat Webster

Legally blind art teacher.

Teaching art to the blind..

Evgen Bavcar-blind photographer


 Fall 2002: The Snorkeling Professor
Spring 2001: Teacher Bird
 Fall 2001 : The Primal Egg Drop.