A unique exhibit showcased by the Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Bank is displaying photography by recipients of eye organs and tissue. The gallery is being shown in Denver's Santa Fe art district at the Artwork Network Gallery through November 30th for free.
Formerly blind, the photographers in the Circle of Light Photo Project had all received either cornea or sclera (the white part of the eye) transplants from a donor in Colorado or Wyoming. Upon regaining their vision, the eye bank asked recipients to capture the things they were most grateful to be able to see through the lens of a camera in the fall of 2009.
The result was a submission of 150 photographs by 24 people. The photographs were then narrowed down to 25 by Denver professional photographers Natascha Seideneck and Lucia De Giovanni.
According to Josh Edwards, a Public and Professional Relations Coordinator for the non-profit Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Bank, Colorado has the highest rate of registered donors in country--a rate of 66% on the license registry.
"The idea for this came up about 5 years ago, originally as an idea for our annual report to encourage cornea recipients to take photos," Edwards said. He adds that approximately 600 people have cornea transplants each year in Colorado and Wyoming alone, and 36,000 nationwide have their sight restored after the transplant.
One of the participating photographers, Mark Lyons, took a vacation with his family just four months after having surgery to correct his keratoconus--where he took a photograph of his son jumping into the vivid blue Crater Lake in Oregon. Lyons still has stitches in his eye from surgery, but his doctor expects him to have 20/20 vision once he fully recovers. He has two photographs featured in the Circle of Light exhibit.
"It was partly a way to show off this really awesome photography that these people created, but also to spread awareness for what eye organ or tissue donating can do for people," Edwards said.
The non-profit organization held a silent auction for the photos in the exhibit, and all proceeds will go to the eye bank to fund its mission and programs.