Paintings by legally blind artist from Missouri on exhibit in UGA College of Education’s Office

Athens, Ga. – Beethoven created much of his music without ever hearing the finished work. American expressionist David Kontra paints without ever seeing his.

Kontra, a legally blind artist from Missouri, will have his works displayed in the University of Georgia College of Education’s Office of Information Technology – Room 232 in Aderhold Hall – during the 2006-07 academic year. The office is open from 7:45 a.m. until 8 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and from 7:45 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Fridays.

Kontra’s visual impairment is caused by a degenerative eye disease called retinitis pigmentosa, which slowly robs people of their sight. Severe tunnel vision, nystagmus (rapid involuntary rhythmic eye movement) and blind spots are what he must deal with daily and when squinting inches from the canvas.

“When I paint I am unable to see the entire painting either during or after the painting’s completion. This means that I must rely on my memory to create the work,” he said.

Kontra said some works have taken months to paint, because the dimensions of the people, buildings and other things he places in the work have to be done by remembering just how large or small he’s made the rest of them.

“I began to draw as a boy to escape depression and this continued throughout my life even as I would encounter ignorance from teachers and other factors that became obstacles to me,” said the artist, now in his late 40s. “I saw much discrimination towards minorities and much against the disabled – including myself.”

As he drew to release frustration, Kontra said he was inadvertently developing a unique style of art that encased his emotions as they pertained to “angry teachers” and “nasty-minded fellow students.

“My experiences with society convey my feelings towards the less fortunate and destitute. Through all of this, I try my best to show the ignorance that governments can reveal to its citizens,” he said. “All I have to do is watch the news and listen to people to obtain my material. Apathetic and insensible people breed ignorance and allow it to fester and injure the different and vulnerable.”

The show titled “My World” is a collection of paintings reflecting Kontra’s take on politics, current events, humor, sensuality and architecture and is derived from the collection of Bob Hart, a retired College of Education faculty member and former director of OIT, who is the college’s unofficial art curator.

For more information on David Kontra: http://www.davidkontra.com/