Exhibit shines new light on perception

The Waterloo Community Arts Centre has been featuring the work of Kitchener artist Meghan Sims in their exhibit Night and Day.

On display at the Button Factory until Oct. 29, the collection of paintings serves as a surreal and abstract demonstration of visual perception during both day and night time scenarios.

Through the selection of paintings, she demonstrates her struggle with the vision impairment achromatopsia, which causes complete colour blindness and an extreme lack of detail in bright settings.

The pieces teach audiences about the challenges of what it is like to live in a society where so much importance is placed on visual elements.

Sims herself is exceptionally near-sighted and wears red-tinted glasses or contacts in order to diffuse light that affects her ability to see acute details.

Talking about Night and Day, she states that the exhibit is about “trying to fit into a very visual world that is capable of moving around during the day when it’s really bright, and the solitary lifestyle of being out at night.”

An excerpt placed by the exhibit reads, “Painting, for me, represents both freedom and a struggle.” She explains that she seeks comfort in the night landscapes because during the day her sight is limited to figures and shades.

Sims calls this a “metaphysical experience” and her two-dimensional paintings allow people to understand what it would be like to live with limited visual comprehension.

The installation repeatedly focuses on how limitations to light and shapes become restricting for someone like Sims.

In fact, simply looking at the day paintings is somewhat straining on the eyes as one tries to decipher and make out the lines of a tree’s branches in an attempt to see the entirety of detail.

Though foreign to a viewer with good vision, this incongruent portrayal of a tree illustrates what Sims perceives on a regular basis.

There is great emphasis placed upon light in every piece of artwork included in the exhibit, especially in the daylight paintings.

The images of nighttime landscapes capture her improved sense of vision – a result of the decreased sunlight.

The night scenes depict silhouettes of people and buildings against the moonlight in crisp detail and utilize very clear outlines.

Sims believes that the painting named “Night and Day”, which the exhibit was titled after, will speak the most to audiences.

She describes the figure within it as “pushing or pulling against dark and light.”

This in itself is the battle she fights daily from day to night – transforming her perception between two distinct worlds of vision.

The exhibit will be on display until Friday at the Button Factory (25 Regina St. S).

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