Saturday, October 14, 2006

Art Exhibit attracts the visually impaired

The blind and visually impaired are often left out of the art museum experience because of do not touch rules. But six month ago, the Art Institute of Chicago agreed to bend those rules.

For years, the Art Institute offered a touch gallery of sculptures for blind and visually impaired patrons. Now, with the touching replicas called Tactiles re able to "see" art.

Art institute staff member Mikie Silverstein is explaining Renior's 'Two Sisters (on a Terrance)' while Marcia Trawinski and Hanna Bratman follow along using the eight-inch by ten-inch light weight tactiles.

"You actually feel like you're touching the whole painting, it's not just a line design," said Mikie Silverstein.

The Tactiles were developed by a student from the School at the Art Institute from recommendation by members of the blind and visually impaired community.

So far, there are five Tactiles available.

"We selected them because we wanted to have a variety of cultures and a variety of techniques," said Mikie.

Museum volunteers escort blind and visually impaired patrons to the Tactiles arts.

Joan Miro's 'Personages with Stars' is another painting that has been re-created on Tactiles.
Marcia says the Tactiles are helpful.

"They allow me to experience the painting with my fingers the way you experience if with your eyes. I can travel across the painting. I can travel within the depth of the painting and I can get a feel for what they artists was doing with their lines and drawings," said Mikie.

Hanna can see only colors and some shapes.

"I don't see the details and I could feel the greenery in the background, the trees and a rail and I could feel the size of the hats and the people and I thought that was really, really neat," said Mikie.
With the 'Stone of the Five Stars' Aztec tablet being enclosed, Tim Paul had the opportunity to 'touch' it.

"I can see the different shapes and the different textures and it really makes me want to learn more and experience more," said Mikie.

The Art Institute of Chicago is the only museum that has Tactiles. If you want a tour with the Tactiles, you need to make arrangements ahead of time. The number to call is 312/443-3929.


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