Photographer explores seeing without eyes

Jameson Filston, Campus Carrier Arts & Living Editor

jfc Jamo you saved the color photos in b and w.jpg
Jameson Filston | CAMPUS CARRIER
Pinky Bass includes images of hands and eyes in her work to convey how people “see” when they are blind. Many of the images are of Bass’s own hands.

Artists get inspiration from many different places, but Pinky Bass gets her inspiration from un unusual source. Bass was first inspired to take photographs by her blind aunt, who was also a photographer despite her disability.

Bass was inspired not only by her Aunt’s art, but by her attitude toward life and her blindness. When reading her aunt’s journal, she only found three times where her aunt felt sorry about her condition. Her aunt used to say that she didn’t live in a world where people are blind, but a world where people are sighted. Even though she was blind since age 11, she played instruments and raised plants, as well as practiced photography.

Part of the way Bass honors her aunt is by incorporating many of her images into her exhibit.  These images hold special significance to her family as well.

Because of her roots, much of Bass’ art is focused on both hands and eyes. Bass described her art as a metaphor. She wants to use her art to explore how people see with their brains instead of with their eyes. 

“I was not just thinking about trying to document what it is like to not see well,” Bass said. “I was also thinking about the concept of what it means to be blind and have vision.”

Many of her pieces include braille, or depict images of hands feeling faces and objects to convey the concept of seeing with the mind. She is also interested in what can happen to degrade eyesight since vision is important to her work.

“If you are a photographer, your eyes are what it is all about,” Bass said.

Some of her artwork is purposefully blurry or has pieces obscured to illustrate this concept, but she also accepts imperfections when they come. She used a pinhole camera for many of her images where it is hard to focus properly or see then end result before it is developed. She accepted the images as they were, even if they were not perfect. 

“What I loved about pinhole is that I had no idea how it was going to come out,” Bass said. “It was so much more exciting than holding a camera.”

Bass is always looking for new ideas and ways to inspire creativity in others and herself. After she got out of school, she became an artist in education. Part of what she did to educate students was to make a pop-up camper into a camera obscura. She even made negatives in the device, which she described as a “happy camper.”

Technology has changed a lot since Bass first became a photographer. Many of her images are black and white or of a muted pallet. She began photography only shooting in black and white, but slowly became interested in incorporating color once it became available. Now she takes pictures with her phone and a macro camera.

Much of Bass’ work is compiling multimedia artworks from objects and images, not all of which she creates herself.  She shares images with other artists to form her creations. She takes images and ideas from them to find different methods of creating art.

Bass started working with multimedia when she started stitching on photographs. She realized that a photograph was not sacred and could become something else. She had done handwork for a long time so she began to incorporate that into her photographs, then began to experiment with different ways to transform photos. She also recycles old images into her new work to become something different.

“I’m constantly looking for a new way to say something,” Bass said.

Leave a Reply