Painter’s artistic vision intact despite imperfect eyesight

Painter’s artistic vision intact despite imperfect eyesight

Photo by Alan M. Dumoff/

blindpainter-webTom Massa holds one of several paintings he created during a presentation at St. Joseph High School, Hammonton, on Thursday, Sept. 24. Massa, 65, a Mays Landing resident, is perceptually impaired.

Tom Massa may not be able to see what the average person can, but that hasn’t stopped him from exhibiting beautiful vision in his artwork.

Massa, 65, a Mays Landing resident who is perceptually impaired, was at St. Joseph High School in Hammonton on Thursday, Sept. 24, speaking about his work — and painting with his guide dog, River, by his side.

In 1985, Massa, working as a bus driver in New York City, was involved in a car accident which consequently robbed him of his frontal vision, causing him to rely on only peripheral vision.

Five years ago, the 16-year U.S. military veteran (with time in the Army reserves and Marine Corp.) was given a paint set by his wife, Helen.  Ever since, he has used spray cans to create almost 60 paintings, most of them peaceful scenes of palm trees, oceans, and ships.

He attributes his painting expertise to his work as an interior designer for a New York brokerage firm, and being able to see where objects could best be placed, before actual work was begun.

“I know where I want everything,” he said. “I envision it all, inside my head.”

Painting “releases a lot of tension,” Massa added.

The presentation at St. Joseph took place outside, for students to watch him create his work. The 10 paintings he finished that day were then donated to the school. They will later be raffled off by St. Joseph’s.

During the day, while his wife is at her job with AtlanticCare, he works in the house producing art, which includes an ocean mural painted on a wall. When his wife comes home in the evening, the two head to a local restaurant, to catch up with friends.

What really lifts up Massa, though, is the pleasure others get in seeing his work.

“I’ve got all (these paintings), and people enjoy it,” he said. “It makes me very happy.”

Categories: Catholic School News

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