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Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Envision Arts exhibition offers glimpse into work of a blind artist

George+Mendozas+Colors+of+the+Wind+exhibit+at+the+Envision+Art+Museum+in+downtown+Wichita+on+Oct.+6.
Kristy Mace
George Mendoza’s “Colors of the Wind” exhibit at the Envision Art Museum in downtown Wichita on Oct. 6.

George Mendoza lost his vision when he was 15-years-old, but that hasn’t stopped him from taking his artistic career to its full potential. Mendoza began painting full-time in 1993, taking inspiration from his disability.

Although Mendoza has no formal art training, he has created over 500 paintings. Seven pieces from his 40-piece abstract collection “Colors of the Wind” are currently on display at the Envision Arts Gallery and Community Engagement Center in downtown Wichita.

According to Envision Arts program manager Sarah Kephart, “Colors of the Wind” is on permanent display at Ellen Noël Art Museum in Odessa, Texas, and many pieces of the collection have been on display at the Smithsonian Institute.

“These are seven very colorful, textured, abstract paintings that really kind of embody this energy of George,” Kephart said. “(The art also shows Mendoza’s) journey of losing his vision and working through some of the challenges he was facing. He found that art was a great release.”

Kephart’s favorite of Mendoza’s pieces the gallery has on display is the colorful “Window Eyes,” a bright painting with lots of orange and blue hues.

“One of the most powerful things about (the painting) is that if someone did have vision loss, but was not totally blind, there’s a lot of contrast in this particular piece that (they) would be able to navigate this composition.”

According to the gallery’s website, Envision’s mission is “to improve the quality of life and provide inspiration and opportunity for people who are blind or visually impaired through employment, outreach, rehabilitation, education and research.”

Envision Arts gallery coordinator Dale Small explained that, like other works displayed by Envision, the Mendoza Exhibition helps people see blind artists as more than their disability.

“I like shows that are that just kind of provoke people to think differently about art and what people are capable of,” Small said. “I think that’s something that’s really special about the Envision Arts Gallery is because all of our artists do have a disability. They’re able to challenge our conceptions about what people are capable of doing as artists, but also just as people.”

Kephart explained that the current Mendoza exhibition will be expanded upon next summer, when the full “Colors of the Wind” collection will be on display for three months, starting in July 2024.

“George actually learned of our museum online, and he reached out to us to exhibit his work,” Kephart said. “We had already had the gallery booked for this entire year, so we just kind of created space for him, but next year, we are going to have the full 40 pieces of the wind, and he will be here next year.”

Kephart said Mendoza has written three books and will be doing readings and signings in the future as well.

“Colors of the Wind” will be on display to the public for free until Oct. 27.

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About the Contributors
Avery Gathright, Reporter
Avery Gathright is a first-year reporter for The Sunflower. Gathright is a secondary education major with an emphasis in English. She hopes to eventually teach AP Literature. Gathright uses she/her pronouns.
Kristy Mace, Photo Editor
Kristy Mace is the photo editor for The Sunflower. She's majoring in psychology. Currently a junior, Mace hopes to go on to get her Ph.D. and become a neuropsychologist. She also plays for Wichita State's bowling team and does professional photography aside from The Sunflower.

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