Thursday, September 11, 2008

Ketra Oberlander, A Woman of Possiblity twice over

Ketra Oberlander was a writer and editor for years when she was dealt a hand most literary folk would consider a spiritual death knell. She became blind at age 40, after years of deteriorating vision in her 30s. “I see the glamour shot view of people, that soft focus, no color, no edges. There are many levels to vision loss that cannot be corrected. My vision was never great.” What would you do? Ketra began to walk to adult education classes just to get out of the house. “I did a few paintings, joined the local art club, and then a miracle happened.” No, she did not regain her vision. “People liked my work,” she beams. “I picked up a paintbrush and my life changed.”

Last January, after five years of increasing her recognition in the art community, Ketra founded an art licensing agency that represents physically disabled artists exclusively. She did it, “so we can connect with a broader audience despite our limitations.” She assures me that she lives a “fully integrated life” and I certainly believe her, even before she offers evidence.
What is her advice? “Emily Dickinson was hiding all her work. I just don’t get that at all. That’s masturbation. There’s a lot of good work that needs to get on a surface where it can be shared and enjoyed. Some people use the word ‘balance’ as an excuse not to do. If it comes out badly, throw it out. So what. If you’re tired, go to sleep. Then get up and do what you want to do as long as it is a contribution. We need more displays of affection, love and goodness in humanity.”

Is there a market for what you create? “The market can’t tell you the value of your work if you don’t put it out there for others to see. Do it to your comfort level. It is okay to be a hobbyist if you don’t want to sell it, but share it. Make your own choices about your work. Not knowing what you want to do with the final product is okay. We change. Ideas can be revisited. I know a 72 year old who just now was ready to show her sculptures for the first time in her life. Life is not an either/or proposition. Being a painter is not my mission critical. My main focus is to be a conduit for love, which usually starts with me giving.”

What about those who don’t create because of other commitments, including stay-at-home moms, or working mothers who are expected to also do all the care taking and cleaning of the household? “You CAN be a writer and a mom, or have a full-time job and be a musician. Do I care if I don’t have balance? No. If my house is a mess, it doesn’t matter. I’m blind!”

See more of what Ketra is about via her site: Art of Possibility Studios

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