The Bismark Veterans Memorial Public Library, located at 515 North Fifth Street, features artwork made by local talent. From now until April, the library will feature a model ship collection in its lobby.
What makes this model ship collection so interesting—aside from its beauty, is the fact that is has been built by a man who is legally blind.
Joel Brostrom, the artist, has congenital glaucoma and has been blind for his entire life. He can see well when looking at things from up close, though. As objects get farther away from him, details fade.
The 54 year old has been building ships since his childhood. In his first six years of attending school, he attended a school for blind children. His mother would visit and bring him model kits of various things.
Brostrom built his first model ship, the Flying Cloud Clipper, at age 12. Afterwards, he built a model of Captain Hook’s Pirate ship—fashioned after one in a Peter Pan movie. At the age of twenty, he went to a local craft shop, Meredith’s Hobby and Craft, where he was introduced to intricately-detail models of historic ships.
After building his first historic model ship, he couldn’t get enough. This wasn’t the beginning of Brostom’s fascination with historic ships, though. He had been fascinated with historic ships ever since he saw a model of the Mayflower on a Thanksgiving centerpiece when he was a child.
As of now, he has built more than forty model ships. Eighteen of the ships are displayed in the library, while the rest are scattered throughout his apartment.
Throughout the years, Brostrom has seen the good and bad of building model ships. He has learned many lessons from his model-ship building experiences. Here are some bits of wisdom from him:
• If you are a beginner, start out with less intricate models.
• Always read the directions.
• Paint the pieces before you build.
• Don’t let setbacks discourage you—they are temporary.
• The more intricately detailed ones are “showpieces” when they are built correctly, as opposed to the less intricately detailed ones.
• Have patience. You patience will pay off.