No amount of ocular obstacles can keep Adam Macciocchi Lancia from his art.
The Toronto-born and based painter describes himself as “a visual artist with bad vision.” But one thing that became apparent about Lancia during a recent interview with Daily Hive is that creativity helps him overcome his visual impairment.
“I am a creative at heart. I feel whole and that I have a purpose when I’m creating,” Lancia said. “I think it’s incredible that something doesn’t exist in the world at one point but just an idea. And then that idea comes to fruition and turns into something — in this case, an art piece — that people could take in and really enjoy.”
Lancia’s adventure with art began at the age of two when his parents gave him art supplies to keep him occupied (“or to shut me up, lol”).
“I can vividly remember at four years old drawing all types of 2D dinosaurs and Looney Tunes as they were my favourite things. In junior kindergarten, we had to write about what we wanted to be when we grew up. Everyone wrote down either ‘firefighter’ or ‘police officer’ and I wrote ‘artist.'”
The contemporary artist was then accepted to the Art Gallery of Ontario’s “Young Artists Incubator” program at age seven and more recently graduated with a BA in Fine Arts from Ontario College of Art & Design University.
Lancia is currently being exhibited at The Local Gallery in Toronto.
His achievements are made that much more impressive upon learning that Lancia works through severe visual impairment caused by a rare eye injury that occurred in 2007.
“My dad took me to watch a movie and during the film, I started noticing this dark grey circular watermark on the screen,” recalled Lancia. “I thought it was kind of weird that it kept appearing and then noticed that it was following my eyesight. I tried closing my eyes and rubbing them to reset my vision, but it stayed the whole time.
“At first, I thought my eyes were just being wonky and it would be best not to overreact. To be patient and let it pass. A couple of weeks later though I told my parents. I thought, ‘Okay, I need to get this checked out.'”
Optometrists determined that Lancia had suffered a rare case of cracked and detached retinas in both eyes, causing him to slowly go blind. For many years the artist underwent procedures and major laser surgeries to try and repair his sight.
In 2015, the numerous surgeries finally took hold and his retinas were fully reattached. Though Lancia’s sight had been restored, there were difficult side effects that have stayed with him to this day.
“The stress put on my retinas though from all the procedures caused little holes to form in my eyes. These tiny holes allow more light to pass through my retinas at a faster rate, causing a strobe light effect that is constantly seen, even when I close my eyes to sleep,” Lancia said.
“So while I create my art or go about my day, I constantly see these white strobe lights that partially blind my vision. Further procedures have yet to fix this problem.”
While the ocular condition has been hard to deal with for Lancia, he doesn’t let it deter him from his love of creating and painting. And he is grateful for the support from those closest to him.
“I’ve been so fortunate to have my friends and family be that rock in my life. That I can fully be transparent and talk to them about anything and have that support to get me through is an amazing feeling,” said Lancia. “Opening up and talking about how I feel and what’s wrong has helped me grow so much and become the person I am today. I hope others can have this system in place too, If not, there are so many outside sources and options with professional therapists and helplines.
“It’s okay not to be okay. To be vulnerable and ask for help. You are not alone and there is always someone out there who will listen.”
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Pepe Bratanov, curator of The Local Gallery, told Daily Hive that Lancia’s work is a highlight for visitors.
“Adam’s work has the perfect mix of pop and street art which is exactly the type of work The Local Gallery represents,” said Bratanov to Daily Hive. “Also, Adam’s stunning painting of Sophia Lauren was the perfect match for our gallery, seeing as we’re located in the heart of Little Italy.
“I love seeing visitors of the gallery stop in front of his work, get closer and closer to the paintings and start seeing the details and Easter eggs that Lancia has peppered throughout his work. It’s really a journey of discovery. Even more impressive is that he does this with a visual impairment and post numerous eye surgeries. Hats off to him.”
Lancia’s work has been sold to buyers across North America as well as Europe. His pieces have been liked and shared on social media by the likes of Tiffany Haddish, Maroon 5, and Cheryl Hines.
“My art style incorporates all of the painting and illustration skills I have been taught and practiced throughout my life,” explained Lancia. “It’s a blend of portrait, pop art, figurative, abstract, and pattern design. I’m inspired by what real life means today and how social media dictates others’ interpretation of what we curate as our ‘real lives.'”
With plans to exhibit in additional Toronto galleries as well as art fairs in 2022, Lancia is excited about the future. When it all comes down to it, for the contemporary artist, the true value of art is in creating and experiencing it.
“The process of painting and seeing it come to life is quite special. To then having the finished product bring joy to others as they view it on display in a gallery or have them in their homes is the best feeling.”
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