Surf City resident Nancy McCurtin is one of the 1.3 million people in the U.S. who are blind.
For years, she expressed herself through art, until one day, she woke up unable to see anything. Last April, McCurtin’s world turned to black.
“I felt like I was sinking into a deep, dark tar pit and I couldn’t get out,” McCurtin said with tears in her eyes.
After losing sight in her left eye years ago, a stroke claimed her right eye and the passionate painter said she descended into a spiral of darkness.
“It was despair,” she said. “I was so mad. I thought, how can our bodies play these games with us?
“I called my friend Cheryl (Hunter) and I said, ‘Come help me figure out something to do. I am going crazy.'”
Hunter, McCurtin’s friend and fellow painter wasn’t going to let her friend’s pallet dry up.
“I said, ‘I am gonna make it my mission for you to paint’ and so that’s what we did. That’s what we have been working on, ” Hunter said.
Hunter needed to tap into texture and touch and she used sand to create raised pictures McCurtin could feel on a canvas.
Much like braille, it worked, but there was still a missing piece of the puzzle to allow Nancy to express herself
Hunter scented the paints with essential oils, like lemon for yellow, lavender for purple and so on, allowing McCurtin to find her light at the end of a once dark tunnel.
“It relieves a lot of that depression and heaviness from your shoulders when you can do something uplifting and create your vision and let it out into the universe,” McCurtin said.
Beautiful paintings are now proof that this artist is not letting a devastating obstacle cripple her colorful world.
McCurtin and Hunter are now traveling around the Cape Fear Region helping other visually impaired people express themselves through painting. McCurtin is also writing a children’s book series that centers around a blind sea turtle as a way to tell her journey of going blind but overcoming obstacles.