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Lynn Manning

Lynn Manning

2007, charcoal on paper, two drawings: upper panel, 15" x 44," lower 44" x 30"


Lynn Manning was a playwright, actor, and martial artist based in Los Angeles. Manning was World Champion in Blind Judo at the Paralympics in 1990, and as an actor, appeared on numerous TV shows, on stage and in films He was founder of the Watts Village Theater.


Manning’s most famous play, Weights, explored the relationship between race and blindness. Though he was born sighted, Weights includes a passage in which Manning describes childhood fears that he propelled him to “practice” blindness when alone at home, turning off the lights and trying to navigate in the dark. In almost unbelievable irony, he was blinded at 23 when a man shot him outside a bar, on an evening when where Lynn was celebrating a promotion.  


In the lower panel, Manning grasps his white cane as might a samurai would hold his sword, or as an antenna to the skies. The upper panel contains the tip of the cane, above which arcs a comet which contains the bullet that blinded him. Inside the comet’s tail is text in Braille (it is 3-D and embossed into the paper) that says “Born April 28, 1955: Transformed October 18, 1978”.  The sky around the comet is embossed with a chart of the constellations from April to October.


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