Colorado Springs resident Robin McKenna says she's worn glasses all her life, but eventually her vision got so bad "it was like having a thick coating of Vaseline on my glasses.
"I could see some vague light and shape, but no details."
After receiving two cornea transplants in the last three years, the 41-year-old McKenna can now see so well that she's a frequent photographer, and has three photos featured in The Circle of Light Photo Project. All the photos in the show coming to Marmalade at Smokebrush were taken by people who were legally blind before receiving eye-tissue transplants.
The project was organized by the Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Bank in Denver, a recovery agency for donated eye tissue in Colorado and Wyoming that helps facilitate transplants locally, nationally and internationally.
"The photo project started with sending a letter to every transplant recipient in the U.S. over the last several years, asking them to photograph what they were most grateful to be able to see," says Josh Edwards, public and professional relations coordinator at RMLEB. Recipients were also asked to submit their photos for the exhibition.
RMLEB received 150 photos, which had to be narrowed down to 25 for the collection now touring Colorado and Wyoming. For the selection process, RMLEB recruited two professional photographers from Denver, Natascha Seideneck and Lucia De Giovanni.
One of McKenna's three shots is "Mt. Princeton," which she describes as "almost abstract-looking" in its starkness and boldness; another features Garden of the Gods. Besides being grateful "to the donors that gave the gift of sight to me," she says, she's grateful to live in Colorado Springs.
Circle of Light comes to this city as the first show for a newly reimagined Smokebrush. It's a perfect match, says executive director Don Goede: "It totally encompasses what we want to do here," he says. "We want to present the visual arts and the healing arts."