Public Arts: Muralist Who Defies Blindness
After losing his eyesight in 2001, John Bramblitt feared he would never be able to pursue art again.
While attending the University of North Texas, he began having epileptic seizures, which damaged his optic nerve. But with the support of his family and friends, he found a way to navigate the world with a paintbrush in hand.
Since he returned to painting in 2002, Bramblitt has completed five large-scale murals. His first was in New York for World Sight Day in 2017. Since his own blindness, Bramblitt has instructed hundreds of visually impaired students across the United States.
Recently, Bramblitt had the opportunity to brighten Dallas’ own Bishop Arts District. This is the first mural that he has painted in his hometown. It looms over four stories tall on the side of the Bishop Highline Apartments and reflects the vibrant culture in the neighborhood. It depicts a woman strumming a guitar as her hair blows in the wind against a bright blue sky with a hint of the rising sun behind her.
To complete each mural, Bramblitt works in stages. He paints the image on a smaller canvas to prepare for moving to full scale on the building. After this step, he outlines the image on the brick with a special thick black paint that guides him. Painting has become a tactile and haptic experience for Bramblitt as he works with different colors that each have a unique consistency. Beyond Braille written on the paint tubs, the experience of touching different paints helps him make artistic decisions and work with colors in an intuitive way.
Bramblitt’s contribution to the Bishop Arts District is hard to miss and fits well in the neighborhood. It stands tall, speaking to the beauty [l1] in our city and reminding us that we can enjoy the simple texture of life.
Jessica Boldt is committee and communications coordinator at AIA Dallas.
Photography courtesy of Jacqi Serie