Two Art Shows for Visitors with Visual Disabilities

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Somatosensory 2018 has opened at Carnegie Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.  Organized in conjunction with the Pittsburgh Society of Sculptors, this tactile art show features 14 works by local artists in various media and visitors are encouraged to explore each piece through touch.  In addition, each artist has recorded a statement about their work, some descriptive of the creative process, others about the intended meaning of the piece.  The show is enjoyable for visitors who are sighted as well as those with visual disabilities.  The Library is located at 4724 Baum Boulevard in the North Oakland section of Pittsburgh, and is open from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. weekdays.  The show runs through December 7.

Art lovers with visual disabilities are also welcome at the 57th Carnegie International art exhibition at the Carnegie Museum of Art.  Docents are specially trained in methods of verbal description developed by the Museum Education Institute Art Beyond Sight.  They conduct free informal 90 minute tours of selected works in the International.  Questions and discussions are encouraged.  The docents acclimate visitors spatially in the building to provide a complete museum experience, and some pieces, such as ceramic and wood sculptures, can be touched.

Verbal description uses non-visual language to convey the visual world.  It explores the dimensions or scale of the work, media and technique, and also the subject matter and composition.  It can inform the viewer about the particular artist, a movement or school of art, period and geographical region, and also style which may include characteristics like brushwork, use of tone and color, choice of different motifs, and the treatment of the subject.  Verbal description uses clear and precise language and vivid details.  One goal is to provide enough information so that listeners can form an image in their minds and reach their own conclusions about a work of art.  And while touching three-dimensional works gives visitors who are visually impaired an immediate, personal experience with an original work of art, when that is not possible, alternative touchable materials like marble, clay and canvas can sometimes be provided.

These special Museum tours for visitors with visual impairments will be held monthly during the show, and following its closing on March 25, will be available to view the permanent collection.  The next tour for “drop-ins” is at 6:30 p.m. on November 29. RSVP at 412 622-3222.  Register for group tours by calling 412 622-3289.   The Museum also provides docent led tours for individuals who are deaf, or who have Alzheimer’s or dementia.