Friday, October 18, 2013

Please, Touch the Art!

In the past, I've posted some amazing art by people with disabilities on our Facebook page, because I love art and think it is worth sharing. But how does one show art to those who can't see it? Art has been breaking its reputation as a strictly visual medium for over two decades, and now an event in the UK is continuing in the effort to redefine art.

At the Touch Art Fair in London, you won't find any signs warning you to keep your hands off. The sentiments are quite the opposite. Touch Art Fair is the world's first event to celebrate tactile and haptic arts. Basically, it's art that is made to be touched.

Often, people with visual impairments do not experience art in the same way people without those impairments do. For example, a man who does not see will not have the same grasp on the “Mona Lisa's smile” situation. That is, he will not have that understanding until he can feel the beautiful tactile image of the Mona Lisa created by artist Scratchadelia. One man teared up at his new appreciation for the smile dilemma after touching the innovative rendition of da Vinci's famous painting.

The exhibit features a variety of media, including (but not limited to!) soft and hard sculpture, metalwork, paper manipulation, and more of those Scratchadelia tactile paintings. While these artworks are particularly accessible to the visually impaired, they are to be enjoyed by everyone. One of Touch Art Fair's goals is to challenge people of all kinds to change the way they experience art, which is a pretty intriguing and admirable goal. I couldn't count all the times I wanted to touch the art displays but wasn't able to for fear of ruining the art and getting kicked out of the museum or gallery indefinitely. (I was most recently met with this dilemma two weeks ago at the Portland Art Museum. Did anyone else see those giant vinyl+zipper soft sculptures?) So to me, this sounds rather appealing. And, to make it even better and more accessible to people, Touch Art Fair is free.

Who votes “yes” for a Touch Art Fair in the US? Have you ever gotten to experience art like this? Share your thoughts!

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