Artist with color vision deficiency sees world in new way - KMOV.com

Artist with color vision deficiency sees world in new way

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St. Louis artist Ray Harvey received glasses that allow him to see color (Credit: KMOV) St. Louis artist Ray Harvey received glasses that allow him to see color (Credit: KMOV)

ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) – Local artist, Ray Harvey, is the man behind more than 300 murals, many of them in the St. Louis area.

Many people may recognize his work, without knowing his name. Harvey painted the mural on the outside wall of Syberg’s restaurant on Gravois, the tribute to Clark Terry on South Broadway, and the portrait of Uncle Sam at Helen Fitzgerald’s in South St. Louis County.

“At my age some people would be winding down and thinking ‘okay, we’re about done with painting,’ but as far as I’m concerned I’ve been visually reborn again,” said the 57-year-old artist.

Harvey is imagining a long career ahead of him, in addition to the decades of work he’s already accumulated. The impressive portfolio comes despite a lifelong struggle.

“It’s very similar to being a person who can’t read and you learn ways to fake it,” Harvey said.

He knew from a young age that his vision was different than his peers.

“I probably realized I was colorblind when I started school and I was using the wrong crayons,” he said.

Colorblindness is also known as color vision deficiency. People who have color vision deficiency can see some colors, but often describe them as being a more drab or unsaturated.

“The colors overlap and how your  brain interprets them and the overlap is the problem,” said Harvey.

Harvey can see some colors, but has a hard time distinguishing others.

“The sun used to be more a creamy yellow but now it is just gold and I always heard golden sun and didn't really get it.”

Harvey’s family knew of his struggles. One day last year, his daughter, Sarah Lough, watched a video on social media.

“It showed the people with the glasses on seeing a rainbow of string,” she said. “I thought, wow, if we could get that for my dad it would just change everything for him.”

The video featured a pair of glasses with special lenses that allow the person with color vision deficiency to see color.

Lough and her family began to raise money to buy the glasses from the company called EnChroma. Representatives from EnChroma soon learned about Harvey’s story, and arranged to give him the glasses free of charge.

“When EnChroma found out that he was an artist and has done over 300 murals, with having a color deficiency, they said, ‘wow what would this mean for him,” Lough said.

So on November 23, the Harvey family took a trip to the St. Louis Art Museum to get the special gift.

“When I put those glasses on and turned around it was literally like someone plugged that painting in. I just saw things that were never there before,” Harvey said.

As a surprise from EnChroma, there were also glasses for Harvey’s son-in-law, and three grandchildren, who also have color vision deficiency.

Since November, the entire family has been adjusting to the new perspective the special glasses bring.

“He draws these beautiful paintings and if he can do what he did without being able to see it fully,” Lough said. “I can’t imagine what he's going to do in the future.”

Harvey hopes to take on more projects, and says getting the glasses has been like a heart transplant.

“When you have a burden in your life, whether it might be and it’s been there for over 50 years and then you wake up one day and that burden isn’t there anymore, it’s such a relief.”

For more information on EnChroma, click here.

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