Daytona Beach, FL - Three talented artists are preparing to present and auction their works at the Conklin Center for the Blind Shining the Light Gala on November 1. Aside from their considerable talent, their (un)common denominators are that they are blind or visually impaired with other disabilities, and they are students or graduates of the Conklin Center for the Blind.
Brianna Lawson is an aspiring fashion designer. Winfield Sainpreux is a fine artist and activist in the DeafBlind community. John Dorion is focused on launching his career as a draftsman.
“To see the works of these creative people is truly inspirational, said Kelly Harris, president and CEO of the Conklin Center for the Blind. “We imagine a world in which individuals who are blind or low-vision with additional disabilities are not restricted from the freedoms, possibilities and independence of living a full and healthy life.
This is our vision in action; to help our students identify and achieve their lifelong goals. The training can be rigorous, but our exceptional staff and our students work closely to transform lives every day.”
The passion and talent of these Conklin Center graduates result in beautiful works that have appeared in exhibitions and drawn high praise from patrons and judges alike, according to Harris.
Brianna, who is legally blind, aspires to be a fashion designer for plus-sized women. She has an impressive portfolio of designs that includes a wedding dress designed for her sister. She is creating a dress specifically for the Shining the Light Gala. It will be will be a featured item in an auction that evening. As with all her designs, she sews famous quotations by Helen Keller and others into her garments – in Braille and large print.
Winfield, who is DeafBlind, is an accomplished fine artist. He has exhibited (and sold) his works in various events and venues. His portrait of Michael Jackson and a self portrait hang in the Conklin Center residential wing. For the Shining the Light Gala auction, he is working on an acrylic piece featuring a Hollywood celebrity.
Winfield is also actively working to establish a support organization for the DeafBlind, open to anyone learning or fluent in sign language. Meanwhile, he is employed by Alfie’s Restaurant on A1A in Ormond By-the-Sea.
John returned to South Florida after graduating from the Conklin Center and is pursuing his goal of becoming an architectural draftsman. John is visually impaired and hard-of-hearing. He plans to bring his pencil study of the Daytona Beach Pier to the Shining the Light Gala auction. It’s a piece that has generated a great deal of praise and is seen as capturing the iconic pier beautifully.
All three artists are excited about the Shining the Light Gala not only for its fundraising potential for the Conklin Center and the chance to show their works, but in celebration of the organization’s 40 years of service to blind and low-vision adults who also have additional disabilities.
“The place is amazing,” said Winfield. “Most of us arrive totally dependent on others and graduate with the skills and experience to live independently. It is a thing of beauty, a great story to tell the community."
The Shining the Light Gala will be held on the evening of November 1 at The Shores Resort & Spa. It will feature a silent and live auction and music. In addition, it will highlight the new partnership between the Helen Keller National Center and the Conklin Center as the leading agency providing services for adults who are DeafBlind in the state of Florida. Community awards will be presented, as will a special award to volunteer, consultant and advocate Mike Jiloty. “Mike is a distinguished civic and business leader who is fully committed to our mission, said Mike Fielding, Chairman of the Conklin Center’s Board of Directors. “He has been instrumental in helping us fulfill that mission and it is a pleasure to recognize him for his many contributions to the success of the Conklin Center.”
For more information, tickets and sponsorship opportunities, visit conklincenter.org or call 386.258.3441.