Sunday, August 11, 2019

Making Art Accessible

Amanda Guest works with teenage art enthusiasts who are a part of ArtsConnection. The organization provides students with engaging and authentic art experiences such as exhibiting their work in fancy New York City offices. 

I had the opportunity to meet Amanda's students as they were planning an exhibit to be displayed where I work. We discussed some ideas for displaying art in a way that is accessible. This was an exciting concept for them. As I began speaking, they pulled out their notepads and started taking down ideas about how people with disabilities might access the art they displayed. Below are some of the ideas we discussed and more.

Office wall with three paintings from students.
Art work of ArtsConnection students displayed on an office wall. 

Ideas for making art more accessible

QR Codes

QR Codes are a simple way to begin making art accessible. The QR code can link to a digital space where the piece can be more accessible in a variety of ways. The artist may describe her piece. Others may describe the art. People can respond to questions about the art. A QR code makes the art accessible to those with disabilities and also adds another useful layer for any aesthete.

Tactile Art

Having the option to listen to an audio description of art is quite useful for anyone who wants it. However, someone experiencing a piece of art may want to interpret it for themselves.
Unfortunately, too often the mantra when it comes to art is: Look, but don’t touch. 

Fortunately, more and more artists are realizing there is more to art than what meets the eye. What meets the hands and fingers, can add a whole other experience to art that might be crucial for those with visual needs and helpful for everyone.
  • Textured Paint:  You can take existing art or create new art by layering paint to make it a more tactile experience. John Bramblitt is an artist who uses and has popularized this technique. He lost his eyesight due to complications with epilepsy and Lyme disease. Painting by touch is the way he can create art that appeals to the touch and the sight of fans who appreciate his work. Using texture is a low-tech way to give a vision of an art piece to a person who is blind.
  • 3 Dimensional Art:  A company called 3DPhotoWorks makes tactile printing that delivers visual information to the blind, promotes independence, improves self-confidence and enhances learning. Tactile fine art printing converts any 2-dimensional image to a 3-dimensional, tactile fine art print.

    You don’t have to go to 3DPhotoWorks for 3 dimensional art though. Now that more and more schools have access to 3D printers, students can use their creativity to make 3D printed art. 
  • Multi-Sensory Objects:  Art with multi-sensory objects invites art lovers to interact with and touch the art. You can use objects to create new art or add to existing art. Here’s a fun sticky collage art project.  

Olfactory Art

How about adding the sense of smell to your art? Olfactory art is a technique used by some artists. Be creative and near that art have a jar of goodies that give the art a taste too. Perhaps the aromatic scent comes from a perfume or an essential oil. You could provide a coupon or coupon code to where fans could purchase that which provides the featured scent.

Your Turn

What do you think? Are these some ideas you can see your students incorporating into their projects? Which do you like best? Are there other ways you have seen or can think of making art accessible?

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