Blindness no roadblock for Gilbert artist | Community

Contemplating her achievements by the time she turned 30 Sept. 28, “handicapped” appears to be an inappropriate adjective for Gilbert resident Marieke Davis.

A mind tumor removed half her sight in both of those eyes for the very last two decades of her lifetime, forcing her to master matters most individuals choose for granted.

Legally blind and not able to drive, she uncovered how to get close to Columbus, Ohio, when she attended Columbus University of Art & Structure.

Murmurs of shock and incredulity rippled by the viewers at the graduation ceremony in May possibly as she walked throughout the phase with a white cane.

She was buying up a masters degree in good arts with a summa cum laude hooked up to it.

And Davis is the Columbus College’s initially lawfully blind graduate to get that diploma in visual arts.

In 2016, Davis acquired a bachelor’s diploma from Arizona Point out College in great arts with minors in resourceful creating, English literature and Women and Gender Reports with a excellent GPA.

Now, she’s published – and absolutely illustrated – a photo e book, titled “Lily the Blind Unicorn.” Also published in Braille and an in an audio version, the book aims to train youngsters about incapacity, inclusion and acceptance.

Davis liked artwork as a kid.

And then she was hit with a brain tumor.

Surgeries – at ages 10, 11 and 17 – presented her with a situation termed hemi-anopsia, leaving only her remaining-side discipline of eyesight in both eyes.

But artwork became element of her actual physical and psychological treatment as considerably again as quality college, exactly where it was section of her individualized schooling prepare. More than time, she mentioned, artwork aided her “train my system to go my eyes around and my physique to compensate for my lacking eyesight.

She has to tilt her head to the ideal to see.

“It usually takes a lot of apply,” Davis said. “And I have had yrs to accommodate and change to my eyesight decline. I typically use projectors to assist me with hard perspectives. And a good deal of it is just muscle mass memory since I have been carrying out this for so extensive.”

“It’s come to be form of second character to me. I however have issue occasionally and challenges,” she added. “I definitely need to have visual references for a large amount of the things that I attract, but that is not that uncommon for artists.”

That tilting produces yet another hardship: “After I’m finished drawing for the day, I frequently really do not comprehend that I have been tilting my head so much. I create neck soreness a whole lot.”

Davis pursued her master’s diploma at the encouragement of the Phoenix Basis for Blind Little ones.

And she needed a tiny encouragement: More than the program of three decades following graduating from ASU and inspite of her ideal grades, nine graduate arts faculties and universities turned down her application to join their masters diploma in great arts applications.

But the basis mentioned it realized Davis “always needed to instruct children that they can do practically nearly anything no matter what other people may consider.”

“Lily, The Blind Unicorn” – whose title character performs the lute and makes use of a white cane to enable see the environment – was Davis’ thesis for her master’s degree.

Lily’s close friends are blind unicorn artists, deaf unicorn singers and hoof-significantly less unicorn dancers, but no just one understands they exist they stay in a “not crafted with them in brain.”

Davis experienced determined children’s books have to have extra figures that are blind or in any other case disabled.

“A children’s ebook is a fantastic way to educate both of those disabled and not disabled children about the themes in the e book and that is group, and coming together to make a environment that is obtainable for everybody,” Davis stated.

The Phoenix Basis for Blind Kids praised “Lily” for stressing how important it is “for the disabled local community and non-disabled neighborhood to arrive jointly to function and learn with just about every other.

“As a result, entirely new suggestions, genres, mediums, and activities will be made to profit absolutely everyone,” it notes on its web page.

Davis reported she also is grateful for the foundation’s Routines of Day-to-day Residing classes and adult changeover software that aided her adapt her blindness to numerous techniques like cooking.

She’s primarily very pleased of the point that she designed an audio model of “Lily.”

This previous summertime, a 4-member team of ASU alumni recorded the audio adaptation,” full with a narrator, voice actors, sound outcomes and music—as part of Marieke’s lifelong aim to make her visual artwork immersive and obtainable to all audiences. The printed edition was developed at the ASU Print & Imaging Lab on the Polytechnic Campus and a Braille overlay version was produced by the Clovernook Middle for the Visually Impaired in Cincinnati.

“I feel that art really should always be inclusive,” Davis said. “The descriptive audio was just a way to aid achieve far more individuals who may perhaps be even additional are impaired than I am. Audio is a small little bit extra universal than even Braille. Other than, I also wished to have a very little bit much more pleasurable with this and do things that I couldn’t automatically do in the guide.”

Davis chuckles above the murmurs of surprise that rippled by way of the audience when she picked up her MFA in May, but in some approaches hopes it grew to become a teachable instant for some of the visitors.

“I’m fairly utilised to silencing a place,” she stated. “It was a shock for a lot of people today, simply because a lot of individuals really don’t feel to realize that. …I’m not totally blind, but I am viewed as lawfully blind and that that usually means that I am missing plenty of eyesight to demand government providers to help get all over and be unbiased. But I’m incredibly persistent in my art career and in what I do.

“It’s generally kind of funny that people today have this perception that blindness is total decline of sight when seriously complete blindness is fairly exceptional in the blind neighborhood. .. And you’d be shocked you can come across a lot of men and women who are blind and visually impaired in our group who are visual artists and tactile artists. And I locate that beautiful.”

The Braille and standard editions are at and the foundation’s site at