Art isn’t just about what you see.
That’s part of the message behind “TACTILIS,” a new Salt Lake Community College exhibition aimed at providing an art experience for the blind and low-vision community. The exhibit, curated by Art Gallery and Event Specialist Danielle Susi, focuses on artwork specifically made to be touched and grew out of a need for creative displays meant for diverse audiences.
“I don’t think that there are exhibits that are open to people who don’t have their sight,” says Susi, who joined the college last October. “I’m using it to build awareness … that those kinds of exhibits don’t exist as frequently as possibly perceived.”
Often, Susi said, exhibits like “TACTILIS” are found only in major museums, which aren’t always easy to access. Her goal, she said, is to make this gallery accessible to anyone who wants to experience it.
Susi reached out to both students and artist friends she thought might be interested in creating this kind of art.
“I think most artists are excited to be a part of something like this,” says Susi. “It can be stressful sometimes for artists to have their work touched, [but] a lot of the artists have expressed excitement that the labels will be in braille. That it will be completely open for people who maybe would never be able to experience their art otherwise.”
Though created with the low-vision and blind community in mind, the average patron will be able to find new meaning in touching and experiencing of feeling something that is normally seen as reserved for a specific group.
Susi has been working closely with the disability resource center to make sure the event is fully accessible, including creating braille labels for the exhibit.
“The blind and low-vision community is often overlooked in general,” says Susi, noting that she regularly notices things that make it more challenging to maneuver daily activities. “I was at a building the other day, and I saw braille that was way above [the ADA standard of] 60 inches, and it really bothered me … People are like, ‘We’re trying,’ and I don’t think that’s good enough. You need to make it so that those people feel the same dignity and accessibility as anybody else.”
“TACTILIS” will be on display Oct. 3 through Nov. 9 at the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Gallery on the South City Campus. A reception will take place Oct. 19, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., in the foyer outside the gallery.