Exploring face blindness through art

Bendigo creative art student Mici Boxell agrees with the notion that recognition and sight are two completely different things. As a person with ‘face blindness’ it’s something she’s battled with her whole life, and now addresses through creativity.

Mici was awarded the Julie Miller Markoff Visual Arts Award at this year’s graduate exhibition launch on Friday, November 18 at the Phyllis Palmer Gallery.

The $3000 award is to assist students in the transition from art school to the professional world of exhibition and industry.

As an adult Mici was found to have prosopagnosia, or face blindness, which causes her to have difficultly recognising people, especially without external cues such as voice or gesture.

Mici said she explores her condition through her photographic artwork, which presents images in different and unusual forms.

“My work is an ongoing investigation into how we look, perceive and remember, as well as the formation of mental images, gestures and figures,” she said.

Professor of Practice at La Trobe Art Institute and one of the award judges, Karen Quinlan, said Mici’s application was impressive.

“It showed strong writing backed up by excellent images,” she said. “Mici appears to be on the edge of a transition in her practice and I think this award will support that progression.”

Julie Miller Markoff, whose donation established the award three years ago, said she wanted to support artists to succeed.

“Helping early or mid-career artists develop a platform from which to launch their profile is very important to me,” she said.

“Artists have a point of view and emotional depth, and they can draw you into it. Presenting an exhibition that enables more people to engage with art is a wonderful outcome.”

Mici described Julie’s donation as an incredible act of kindness. “Her generosity in helping artists like myself transition from student into the professional arena shows great faith in students, the La Trobe arts department, the lecturers and the Bendigo arts community as a whole,” she said.

Media contact: Lauren Mitchell on 5444 7922 / 0432 251 019