Blind Visionaries: Daniel Kelly & The Seeing with Photography Collective

Friday, September 17th


Blind Visionaries: Daniel Kelly & The Seeing with Photography Collective

Blind Visionaries is a multi-media performance featuring photography created by the blind and visually impaired members of The Seeing with Photography Collective with original music by Daniel Kelly.

Exhibited in galleries around the world, the haunting and poetic images of the Seeing with Photography Collective are created in a dynamic process called “light painting” transporting the viewer into their unique dream world of surreal portraits.  Their captivating images will be projected on a video screen throughout the performance. Audiences will hear recorded interviews from these blind & visually impaired photographers reflecting upon their personal experiences with blindness and Daniel Kelly’s riveting original music composed in response to these compelling stories. Audience members will create a new photo with members of the Collective that will be projected on screen during the concert!

More about Daniel Kelly & Blind Visionaries: 

Daniel Kelly created Blind Visionaries because of his passion for the stunning images made by the blind and visually impaired photographers of The Seeing With Photography Collective. Kelly first encountered their work more than 15 years ago in New York City and made several visits to the Collective’s weekly photography-making sessions the Center for the Blind in Manhattan led by their director, Mark Andres. During a gallery exhibition at the Soho Gallery, Kelly and his band performed in the dark as people attending the opening created photos with members of the Collective who use a unique process to create their photos called “light painting.” Images created by the Collective are also on the front cover and booklet of Kelly’s CD Duets with Ghosts

Kelly wanted to take their collaboration to a new level and used his talents as conceptualist and organizer, and his depth and fluency in collaborating with multiple art forms to create Blind Visionaries

He searched through the entire body of work created by the Collective over four decades (thousands of photos) to choose the over the 200 photos featured in Blind Visionaries. He then meticulously curated and ordered the photos using visual themes and different photographic techniques his guides. With the photos now selected and ordered, he created 10 different films that are projected onto the video screen during the performance of Blind Visionaries. Viewers are immersed into the stunning visual world of The Seeing with Photography Collective as the films delves into the photos, weaving and zooming in and out, across different parts of each image to reveal the rich visual language and surreal world created by these extraordinary photographers. 

Kelly also felt audiences would want to know more about these visually impaired photographers and how they could create such stunning photos with their limited ability (or complete inability) to see. So he interviewed several of the members and wove the recorded audio interviews throughout the performance of Blind Visionaries. Audience members hear the photographers speaking about their personal experience of losing their sight and how they draw meaning from the process of creating photos which have been celebrated exhibited in galleries throughout the world. 

After Kelly had selected the photos, created the films and recorded the interviews, he then used his talents as a composer, pianist and bandleader to compose music that captured and amplified the emotional quality of the photos, immersing the audience into a musical dialogue between the imagery in the photos and the compositions performed by his trio.

One of Kelly’s core values and mission as an artist is engaging with audiences and communities. He wanted to the audience to have the experience of creating a light painting photo. So in every performance of Blind Visionaries, selected audiences members are chosen to come to the stage and create a photo with members of The Seeing with Photography Collective as Kelly’s trio plays music. Since the images are created on digital cameras, these newly made photos are projected onto the video screen at the end of the performance, delighting audiences as they see themselves and their friends and neighbors projected and transported into the captivating visual world they have been experiencing all throughout the performance.

About Daniel Kelly

Daniel Kelly is a composer and pianist who has been called “stunningly original” with “a visionary imagination.” His music draws inspiration from literature, visual art and journalism, captivating audiences across the country. A prolific composer and tireless musical explorer, Kelly continually seeks out new avenues for his creativity.  

Making connections is one of Kelly’s strengths, whether it’s exploring connections between art forms or connecting with audiences. Gifted with an uncanny ear for music and story, it’s his deep sense of empathy and humanity that impacts audiences the most, making performances uplifting and emotional experiences. 

Kelly is the recipient of the Chamber Music America/ASCAP Adventurous Programming Award, Chamber Music America Residency Partnership Grant and the New York State Arts Council Individual Artist Grant. He is the co-founder and co-Artistic Director of Connection Works, an artist-run non-profit organization based in Brooklyn. He’s also produced over 250 concerts, featuring artists such as: Grammy award-winner Joe Lovano, NEA Jazz Masters Dave Liebman & Shelia Jordan and MacArthur “Genius” Grant recipients Dafnis Prieto & Steve Coleman. 

Daniel Kelly’s music has been declared “powerfully moving” by Time Out New York, and he has brought his unique talent to performances with Grammy award-winning jazz legends Michael Brecker and Joe Lovano, hip-hop star Lauryn Hill, and modern classical giants the Bang on a Can All-Stars, to name a few.  

 He has released five CDs of original compositions, including World, which blends Afro-Cuban and Brazilian music and features guest DJ, RJD2; Duets with Ghosts, which combines samples of voices from old archival recordings with a hard-edged Downtown New York electric quartet; Portal, an improvised solo piano suite that arose from his series of improvised solo piano concerts; Emerge, a new take on the jazz piano trio, infusing it with the energy and drive of rock music; and Rakonto: A Sounding of Community Voices which features the voices and stories of immigrants living in one of New York City’s most ethnically diverse communities. 

 Blind Visionaries is an impressive multi-media collaboration with the Seeing with Photography Collective, a pioneering group of visually impaired photographers. The collective is a New York based group, their work is a collaboration between visually impaired and sighted photographers using a technique called light painting. The visually impaired or blind photographer works with a photographer assistant and shares what they want to create based on a vision in their mind’s eye. What results are riveting, surreal images that have helped these seemingly disabled artists to heal through their work. The Collective’s work has been exhibited worldwide and can be seen in the book Shooting Blind published by Aperture.