Kelley Donner

MA Illustration and Book Arts

Empathy is malleable. It can be created, molded, and broken apart. Our ability to feel for others, to recognize their intentions, beliefs, and motivations, is strongly related to our ability to see the perspective of others. Our eyes do more than just see the world. They transform it.

A 130 page genre-blending, non-fiction book for general audiences that is not just read, but processed, Seeing Empathy requires you to take a step back and to understand not only how you visualize the world, but how the world views you. It is a journey into why we see (and feel) the way we do using current lessons from cognitive psychology as well as observations, illustrations about perspective, and personal anecdotes. In addition, sketch and journal prompts have been added to aid you in understanding your own empathy experience - You read. You sketch. You journal. And, you “see” the world again differently.

From Black Lives Matter to the March on the Capitol in Washington D.C., it is evident that many people have difficulty seeing things from another’s point of view. As our society becomes more and more polarized, empathy is needed now more than ever. We can actually improve our ability to be more empathetic. We can make it more likely that we will respond to a situation with compassion. All we need to do is to learn to “see” empathy.

Kelley Donner has always had a fascination for how art and psychology coincide. An article based on her Master’s dissertation, “Theory of Mind Barriers to Understanding Illustrations in Primary School Literature: A Case Study of False Belief Scenarios in Early Readers,” will be published in the Journal of Visual Literacy: Special Edition Truth and Lies in Visual Literacy in 2021 and was also cited in Rune Pettersson’s book Using Images. In addition, Kelley has self-published five children’s books including The Day the Lines Changed, which was featured in the Washington Post as one of the top ten pandemic-related children’s books in 2020. Kelley lives in Cambridge, UK.