The flyer for “Image Description and the Critical Blind Gaze” includes an image of the New York Public Library logo lion, Paul Strand’s black and white photo of “Blind Woman,” dressed in black and wearing a sign that reads “BLIND,” as well as my author photo standing in City Hall next to my portrait by Roy Nachum (graffitied by me).

New York Public Library Talk: “Image Description and the Critical Blind Gaze” – In-Person on March 8

I’m thrilled to present “Image Description and the Critical Blind Gaze” at The New York Public Library (NYPL) in-person on March 8, 2pm! Free, but please register.

About the Talk

Author and scholar M. Leona Godin uses photographs in the Library’s collections to explore the strange relationship between sighted photographers and blind subjects.

The photography division of The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs houses many photographs of anonymous blind people. They inspired M. Leona Godin to undertake a project that considers image description as both an opportunity for access and an aesthetic practice. What is lost and what is gained in translating a visual object into a verbal one?

Beginning with the iconic photo “Blind Woman” by Paul Strand that was published in Alfred Stieglitz’s Camera Work in 1917, Godin (who is herself blind) will discuss a few key photographs in the collection that illustrate the complicated relationship between the sighted photographer and the blind subject and how image description and the critical blind gaze can bring a vital new perspective to photography.

To join | Please register for an In-Person Ticket. Doors will open around 1:30 PM. For free events, the library generally overbooks to ensure a full house. Priority will be given to those who have registered in advance, but registration does not guarantee admission. All registered seats are released shortly before start time, and seats may become available at that time. A standby line will form 30 minutes before the program.


You can request a free ASL (American Sign Language) interpretation or CART (Communication Access Real-Time Translation) captioning service by emailing your request at least two weeks in advance of the event: email or use this Gmail template.

This venue is fully accessible to wheelchairs.


M. Leona Godin is the author of There Plant Eyes: A Personal and Cultural History of Blindness. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, O MagazineLiterary Hub, and others. Her online magazine, Aromatica Poetica, is an arts and culture laboratory for the advancement of smell and taste. As a 2023-24 NYPL Diamonstein-Spielvogel Fellow, she is working on her essay project about photography and image description.


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