My family and I went to visit an art exhibit at the Graphite Art Center this weekend. Typically, when you go to a museum, you are not supposed to touch the exhibits. This particular exhibit encourages you to do exactly the opposite. The curator created an exhibit that could be touched to demonstrate there is more than one way to experience art and make it accessible, particularly for blind and low-vision people. By touching the art, one can participate in feeling the artist’s creation first-hand as well as learning about texture and shapes.
The exhibit is open through June 17, 2023.
This image is looking into the exhibit room itself, with sculptures and artwork on the walls. On the right are some embossed drawings, including animals and other figures. It was neat to run my fingers along a glass fish with its scales and a piece with overlapping ocean waves.
The pieces like the one above were arranged so that they had a braille label as well as a written title or description of the piece itself.
This was my favorite piece in the exhibit. One side of the circle with gap on top was incredibly smooth. i couldn’t stop running my fingers along it- it gave me such a feeling of calmness. The other side was rough and I did not linger there for long. I loved these two juxtapositions of texture in a piece of art.
This ammonite sculpture (“Unearthed”) was another great one to touch. I loved feeling the ridges and when I closed my eyes, I could feel they were getting progressively larger as I ran my fingers up to the top.
What would it take for all museums to have a separate space for blind and low-vision people to experience art through touch? Even theaters can participate by having touch tours, where patrons can feel stage props, costumes, and interact with actors.
How Seattle-area arts organizations are trying to be more accessible
Take a look at this article published this weekend and talks about the exhibit in the larger context of accessibility in Seattle-area arts organizations. A few disabled folks give their input on this subject and I am quoted in the article as well. In a nutshell: we still have more work to do!