Colorado Center for the Blind
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Sharing art before next week’s Shared Visions @artacunningham @ArapahoeCC

Wearing sleepshades, Jackson and Blanca work with 2 ACC students on arranging items for thermaform sculpturesWith just a week to go before the third annual exhibit, “Shared Visions Collaborative Artworks”, some Center art students traveled to Arapahoe Community College to make some art and to offer some feedback to painting students on their tactile works.

A black plastic sheet impressed with an apple atop one open and one closed bookFor their very first class with Ann Cunningham, the newest group of CCB art students composed objects on a flat plane and then used a thermoform machine put together by Ceramics Instructor Katie Caron. Some of the results are shown in the photo above – plastic sheets that, using a combination of heat and a vacuum, conform to the shapes of the objects. It’s basically the same process used in product packaging, but way more legit.

After finishing their thermoform pieces, students walked over to the painting studio and consulted with members of Nathan Abels’ class, who’ve been working on paintings with strong tactile elements. The painting class got a chance to get feedback from viewers using only their hands to experience the works.

“I think this is just awesome!” said CCB student Jackson Schwoebel, remarking On the notion that the entire painting class was producing works he could experience tactilely.

At the same time, Abels’ painting students were excited to learn how the elements of their work rendered for their blind visitors.

Blanca offers critique to an ACC student on her face, fur and feathers painting

A young woman tactilely examines a detailed sculpture that features a large eye in the center

All students in our Independence Training Program (ITP) eventually take an art course that lasts four sessions. While some of the specific activities may vary from class to class, the principles covered are the same: Art appreciation by introducing tactile literacy, spatial awareness, the basics of drawing using the Sensational Blackboard (which includes aspects of perspective), and a creative project. For this last, each class works in a different medium, ceramics, stone carving or, in this case, thermoform. an earlier class also spent time at ACC working on the wheel with one of Caron’s ceramics classes.

Why Art?

Beyond the obvious – enrichment and/or expression – the answers to the question “Why art?” are partly related to the broader cognitive implications of the concepts Ann incorporates in her four-part art curriculum. They generalize to other things we teach at the Center. Spatial awareness in drawing, for example, can benefit students in travel on the micro and macro levels. Tactile literacy mirrors, and perhaps enhances, the process of first learning to decipher the Braille code with one’s fingertips. And at next week’s reception for the Shared Vision exhibit, we’ll be incorporating the principles of structured discovery learning into our tactile interpretation and experience of the pieces on display.

Oh yeah, there’s that other thing – the one about those of us at the CCB and in the NFB knowing that being blind doesn’t have to mean being forever cut off from the visual arts.

The paintings and the thermoform pieces will be a part of the Shared Visions show, which opens with a reception next Thursday, November 10. The show will include works from two previous CCB art classes, as well as fall Ceramics and drawing classes taught by Caron and Abels, respectively.

Shared Visions Collaborative Artworks

November 10 – 18
Reception Thursday, November 10, 5-8 p.m.
The Colorado Gallery of the Arts

Gallery Location & Hours

• The gallery is located at our main campus, first floor of the ACC Annex building, A1300
• Monday – Friday: Noon – 5:00 p.m. (open Tuesdays until 7:00 p.m.)
• CLOSED ON WEEKENDS
• Free parking is available in lots A, B and C during Colorado Gallery of the Arts operating hours
• For general information, or to make advance arrangements for access accommodations, please call the Gallery at 303.797.5649 at least three business days in advance
MAP AND DIRECTIONS to the Colorado Gallery of the Arts

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