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Selris James - Biography

Selris James was born in Trinidad on November 28, 1974. His mother, Gwenie James, was not aware that she had contracted Rubella (German Measles) during her pregnancy and had no idea that her son would be at risk of damage from the infection. By the age of two, Selris had been diagnosed as blind and profoundly deaf. The removal of cataracts at age 3 allowed Selris some limited vision and by the time he was 6 it was evident that he was a highly intelligent and artistically gifted child. However, because of his dual impairments, both the School for the Deaf and the School for the Blind declined to accept him.

With the generous support of the Port of Spain Rotary Club, Selris was finally enrolled at the Immortelle Children’s Center for students with disabilities, where he learned basic academic and computer skills and was much loved for his outgoing and enthusiastic personality. Over the years, his visual impairment became worse as he gradually lost all vision in his right eye and relied only on the limited sight in the left eye. In addition, the lack of opportunity to learn sign language left Selris with extremely limited communication skills and he has never been able to gain employment. Nevertheless, Selris never lost his love of art and became particularly enamored of using Photo Shop to draw intricate representations of buildings and a variety of a natural scenes.

In 2015, as a result of a fund-raising effort mounted by his former teacher, Professor Beth Harry of the University of Miami, Selris was able to go to Miami to see if there was any remediation possible for his vision.  The ophthalmologists at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute discovered that the cataract in Selris’ right eye had never been totally removed and had liquefied and needed to be removed surgically. Two days after the surgery, Selris was jubilant as he pointed to both eyes and held up two fingers to indicate that he now had vision in both eyes. He immediately returned to his art and began a prolific phase of painting and computer-based drawings. A modest art show at the University of Miami in November, 2015 encouraged Selris to realize that his art work is valuable and he continues to produce at a steady rate, despite very limited resources.

Selris James - before eye surgery


Selris James - after eye surgery



Lighthouse Port of Spain