Paper Visions: A short documentary on artist Lavaun Heaster

Paper Visions: A short documentary on artist Lavaun Heaster


[ paper cutting sound ] I’m Lavaun Heaster. Sometimes I will go by Lavaun
Benavidez Sanchez Heaster. I create papercraft by cutting
out paper. And then I create cards and
calendars from that. I have 22 degrees of 20/100
vision in my left eye and no vision in my right eye. And I’ve had a learning
disability all my life. You just have to keep cutting
the sawtooth. I started thinking, what do I need to do to develop
as an artist? [ music ] I went to our local organization that serves people with low or
no vision and wanted to work on
self-employment. I brought up art, because I had started actually making a little tiny bit of money off of my artwork. And then I was told, “No, we
dont’ support hobby businesses.” A lot of people want to be
artists in this city. I believe that it’s really
important to figure out what’s unique. I’m not trying to recreate what
I see. I’m actually telling a story. And I’m telling a story that
nobody else is telling, nine out of ten times. Not that many people are telling
the story of a brown woman who has two young,
white girls or of someone who uses a sensing
cane. Not as it’s the story of the person who uses the sensing
cane. It’s more of actually that this person is just part of the
picture of what life is. If you’re blind and you’re
watching a movie, you can hear the dialogue. But if there’s something where
you need context, audio describing helps. It gives language for what’s
happening for people who have low or no vision. The reason why audio description would be very important in this
film is actually because as part of
the blind community, a lot of my friends have no
vision or very little vision. And so knowing that I’m on the
bus right now is gonna make a huge difference. If not, they’re gonna be like, “What the heck is the noise
behind her?” I’ve got a blue piece of
cardstock in the background and swirls of blue with yellow
trim. I’m placing them with them all
coming together in the center, which is two inches down from the top. So I’m just placing them right
now, just to get a feel. I’m gonna put down two red
candles. The center white candle is kinda
big and fat. The edge candles are longer and
thinner. My red candle’s a little bit
behind the white candle. And then the other red candle is
off to the side. And that’s happening on both
sides. I wanna create art that people
can run their fingers on and they can actually feel, for my friends with low or
no vision. But also really important to me is for the people who do have
full vision to see that people who are blind
or low vision can enjoy art. [ music, cars ] I need to figure out something where I can earn enough money to
pay my mortgage and eat. KEITH: RACC oversees the public
art collections for the city of Portland and
for Multnomah County. The principle opportunity is,
I think, to bring work into that collection. Having worked for Multnomah
County for years, I never saw any art around
disability subject matter or by people who were identified
as artists with disabilities. KEITH: Coming in and talking to
us is a step that I wish a lot more artists would take. You were saying you want to be
an advocate for bringing people with disabilities into the public art world. We are always looking for
ways to bring artists period into the public art world. You want the collection that you
have to represent all of Portland. And I think this’ll be a great bridge for us to be able to build. LAVAUN: I’m really excited about
this. The first year, I didn’t make
any money. But that’s cuz I’m having to do
everything on my own. And it’s costing me. I’ve had medical bills. I’ve had
a lot of stuff go on. I’m just kind of pulling it together on my own. But this year, things are taking
off. Facebook has changed again,
which I hate. So I have to figure out the new
way to create an event. Oh! It’s over here. Aha! Here it is. I just get to click on it now. Yay. I like that. I should join. There we go. Let’s go ahead and invite a
bunch of people. [ music ]

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