Our Project

Over the course of a full, feature-length piece, this proposed film will explore the extraordinary life and creative work of Michael Naranjo. On a journey of extreme highs and lows, intertwined with sublime visual imagery, viewers will understand the challenges Naranjo fought past to succeed in his dream of becoming a sculptor. And despite the fact that he has no eyes, Naranjo will reveal the ways in which he can still see. Alongside his wife and business partner Laurie, the pair will demonstrate that love and determination conquer all. They will remind viewers of the importance of dreaming and achieving life’s goals regardless of life’s circumstances or challenges.

 

Synopsis

With clarity uncommon for such a young boy, Michael Naranjo fashioned a whimsical vision of his future.  He dreamt of becoming an artist. Growing up on two of New Mexico’s Indian reservations -- Santa Clara and Taos Pueblos -- Naranjo found inspiration at home where his mother crafted pieces of Earth into clay and pieces of clay into art.

Later, on the streets of Taos, Naranjo would peer through the windows of art galleries to spy on the works of great painters and sculptors. He hoped that someday he might manifest a similar fate and become one of them. 

The dream seemed impossible however, in 1968, when Naranjo was drafted to the Vietnam War. And those dreams all but evaporated instantly when a war injury left him completely blind and diminished the use of his right hand.

In the defining moments that followed, Naranjo chose to fulfill his dreams despite the fact that he no longer had eyes. He ignored countless individuals who tried to tell him it was impossible. He found the strength to regain independence and journeyed away from protective family and friends.  And soon, he wasn’t just crafting pieces of sculpture, he was crafting a career that took him across the globe and landed him exhibitions in some of the world's most reputable museums and landmarks.

But perhaps one of the most remarkable parts of Naranjo’s journey is the fact that despite the loss of his eyes, he can still see. Naranjo describes in detail his creative process and the way images and memories from the past continue to haunt his mind, allowing him to create what his mind’s eye can still see.

In recent years, Naranjo and his wife and business partner, Laurie, have made it their goal to create an artistic legacy that has touched countless lives worldwide. Together they pioneered “touchable” art exhibits offering people of all visual abilities a more intimate experience with art. The Naranjos pioneered these exhibits after many museums denied Naranjo the ability to touch the work of some our country's greatest artists. 

Naranjo is guided by his heart, his intuition, his memory and his hands. He continues to achieve his dream on a daily basis. His pathway to and through achievement has led him and his wife to meet Presidents and even a Pope. Together, Naranjo and his wife work to inspire children, veterans, families, students and art collectors just to name a few. Naranjo’s works are displayed worldwide – at the Vatican, the White House and at various museums. In 2014, Naranjo was immortalized when included as part of a National monument recognizing disabled veterans in Washington, D.C. Naranjo continues to sculpt today.