Toni Schiff – Through The Mind’s Eye
Toni Fields Schiff (1931-2013) was many things during her long and full life, a mother, partner, teacher, psychotherapist, community activist and advocate for abused children, people with disabilities, women’s rights and gay rights. Toni was also an artist who expressed herself in painting. This is especially notable because Toni Schiff was blind.
Toni inspired those around her with her resilience and ability to find joy regardless of her circumstances. Every one of Schiff’s paintings shown on POBA was painted after she became blind in her early 50s as a result of diabetes, and after she developed Parkinson’s disease in her 60s. At the time of her death, at the age of 81, Toni had produced an impressive canon of vibrant and captivating representational art that she only saw through the eyes of others.
Despite the challenges of her physical limitations Toni created strong, colorful, and detailed works that range from the delicious to the mysterious. Her paintings are a pleasure to view both from the outside and as a canvas window into the artist’s mind. It is a wonder to behold what Toni saw – and vividly painted – without the benefit of vision.
Toni Fields Schiff was born in Washington, DC and lived in the DC area through her early years. Toni graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in Early Childhood Education. After working as a teacher and counselor for many years, she returned to school, earning a Master’s Degree in Feminist Therapy at Goddard-Cambridge College in Cambridge, MA.
Toni renewed her interest in painting when she attended a class for people with visual impairments through Sight Loss Services at the Provincetown Council on Aging. After that she became an especially prolific painter in her later years. With the support of those who loved her was able to paint right up to the end of life.
Toni Schiff’s paintings reflect the depth, richness and joy of an unfettered human spirit.