When Concetta Antico looks at a leaf, she doesn’t just see the colour green.
“You might see dark green but I’ll see violet, turquoise and blue. It’s like a mosaic of colour,” said Antico. She doesn’t just visualise these colours because she is an artist in the impressionist style but because of a rare condition known as Tetrachromacy. Due to this distinct condition, Antico has more receptors in her eyes to absorb colour. An average human being would have three cones in their eyes which would enable them to see an estimate of one million colours. But Antico has four cones in her eyes which makes her capable of picking up an estimated 100 million colours, reports Popular Science.
“It’s shocking to me how little colour people are seeing,” exclaims the gifted artist. In 2012, researchers provided confirmation that Antico is in fact a Tetrochromat and further stated that around one per cent of the total world population could be Tetrachromatic.
Even though there may be many more Tetrachromats in the world, it is not necessary that all of them may have trained their brains in colour perception as proficiently as Antico.
The artist therefore presents a rare exception as she states, “I was different than a regular 5-year-old — I was painting at age 7, I was so fascinated with colour.”
Antico, who is personally involved in the research regarding Tetrachromacy, has a daughter who was declared colour-blind almost five years ago.
“I didn’t think it had anything to do with me, but she’s colour-blind because of me. I have a mutation,” Antico said. She understands the more she helps scientists understand Tetrochromacy the better it will be able to help people like her daughter.
But Antico may have inadvertently stumbled upon a different way to help those who are plagued with the problem of colour deficiency. Being a professional artist who has been teaching painting for over two decades, Antico has a number of students who are colour-blind.
In addition to spending time helping researcher’s better understand Tetrachromacy, Antico aims to establish an art school for the colour-blind and create an online platform for people around the world to discover whether or not they are Tetrachromatic.
“I want to be sure before I die that I’m able to define Tetrochromatism,” she said. “There have to be more Tetrachromats out there. Maybe I can lead the way for that,” said the artist.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 18th, 2014.