Seeing Without Eyes: Blind sculptor fulfills a lifelong wish to touch the ‘End of the Trail’

Great State
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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – His world is completely dark but that doesn’t mean Micheal Naranjo can’t see.

“It takes time,” he says. “A lot of touches, hundreds of touches to get from my finger points to my mind’s eye.”

Naranjo is a sculptor in his own right with a lifelong wish to examine one of the most iconic sculptures in North America, Simon Earl Fraser’s ‘End of the Trail.’

He insists, “The size commands space and energy. You don’t forget it once you see it, and if you’re touching it, you’ll never forget it.”

He did see a picture of it once before a grenade took his sight and gnarled his hands in Vietnam.

“As of teenager, I remember seeing a photo of it, looking at it from the back.”

Those same hands became his eyes after that forming iconic art of his own; a Hopi hoop dancer, and a literal image of brothers in arms.

“Each artist has his own way of working,” Naranjo explains. “I don’t know if you can compare them because they’re all so beautiful.”

Daughter Jenna Winters is producing and directing a film about Micheal’s life and the way he works.

She asked him if there were any sculptures he wished he could touch.

She recalls, “Without hesitation, he said, ‘The End of the Trail,'”

His response was immediate.

Micheal continues, “I didn’t blink an eye before I said it. It was instant.”

So on a cold, rainy October morning, the museum made a rare exception to the ‘don’t touch the art’ policy.

Micheal Naranjo stood on a scissor lift and looked at ‘The End of the Trail’ as only he could.

“It’s been everything and more,” he smiles. “It’s always more. It doesn’t matter how big or small. If you love a piece, and you appreciate it, it stays with you.”

In years past, Naranjo has obtained permission to touch and examine other famous sculptures including Michelangelo’s David in Italy.

For more information on Naranjo or the documentary his daughter is producing, click here.

‘Is This a Great State or What?’ is sponsored by WEOKIE.

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