I don’t remember a time in my life that didn’t involve art. I received a couple of “How to Draw” books at my 2nd birthday party from a friend and carried them and a sketchbook around from that point forward. When my vision started deteriorating in middle school and high school, I kept my dream of being an artist alive.
During my freshman year in high school, I was diagnosed with Keratoconus, a degenerative disorder to the eye that causes the cornea to thin and change shape, which results in changed vision. I spent years trying out different techniques, overlapping the end of my high school career and the start of my college career at Otterbein College in Westerville, Ohio, where I chose to major in Art.
By the summer before my junior year at Otterbein, I was unable to see my toenails for a trim, couldn't read books, lost my driving privileges, and could barely see the artwork that I created. I continued my pursuit of my degree at Otterbein College because I had nothing to lose. I would walk across campus and not know the friends that were saying hello to me because I couldn't see them. Everything was a blur. Not surprising, my artwork followed the same vein. A lot of my work included faces with closed eyes or feelings of being pulled into a dark corner. I did not stop creating. My art helped carry me through some of my darkest days.
My first cornea transplant was scheduled in September 1999, shortly after the beginning of fall quarter of my junior year, within days of being put on the cornea transplant list. I will never forget that moment the following day when the patch covering my eye was taken off at my surgeon’s office. Clear as day, I was able to see and read the clock, something I had struggled with for years. Less than two years later, in February of 2001, I had my second cornea transplant. My gift of clarity. Finally, I was looking through eyes and seeing after a decade plus struggle with my vision.
My love of art and my struggle with vision are so closely related. I don’t think I would have the appreciation for art, for the attention to detail, for the ability to make fine lines or blurred images, without my vision struggle. My vision struggle taught me so much about life, about not wasting a second, about the lessons you learn when you lose. I am thankful for another day to create and my gift of clarity.
“The desire to put all of your love and commitment into each and every brush stroke, even if it is a spontaneous, incidental result of experimentation, taking the time to appreciate and accept every mark made will produce a beautiful and inspiring work of art.” - Adam Kolp, 2015
Adam Kolp was born in Westerville, Ohio, in 1978. As soon as he could hold a pencil, he started drawing and doodling. Adam’s desire to create led to a childhood dream of becoming an artist. When he was in high school, his vision started to decrease and he was diagnosed with Kerataconus, an eye disease that affects the structure of the cornea and causes vision issues. After graduating from high school, Adam continued his education at Otterbein College in Westerville, Ohio, studying Visual Art.
Even though his vision became a constant struggle and he was placed on the cornea transplant list, he still continued on at Otterbein, taking classes and making artwork. After two cornea transplants and a pending graduation, Adam decided to return to Otterbein College and get a degree in education so he could share his love of art. Adam is a Middle School art teacher in New Albany. Adam enjoys sharing his passion for art with his middle school students so much that his job doesn’t feel like work. Adam also has established himself as a local professional artist, creating many original and commissioned pieces of art work.
The struggle that Adam endured with his loss of vision has given him a unique view on life and living. He is constantly creating; drawing, painting, wood burning, researching new ideas and techniques, finding a new life for reclaimed materials, or falling back to how he started in 1980, doodling in a sketchbook