Greensboro, N.C. – UNC Greensboro’s College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA) and the Industries of the Blind (IOB) today announced the installation of a public art piece which tells the stories of the blind and low-visioned using sight, sound, and touch.
The installation is located at the IOB building at the corner of Gate City Boulevard and Tate Street, one of the main entrances to the UNC Greensboro campus, and is the culmination of an innovative collaboration between the IOB and the CVPA’s School of Art and School of Music, as well as Interior Architecture University Libraries.
Sight: Students in Associate professor Mariam Stephan’s Painting III class were paired with IOB employees for a series of conversations focused on ideas of independence, empowerment, and access. Based on those conversations, the students created paintings, which were then printed on 8’x10’ banners hung on the side of the IOB building.
Sound: Art History students with Assistant Professor Dr. Nicole Scalissi worked with the painters to record verbal descriptions of the paintings and narratives surrounding their creation. School of Music Composition students, under the direction of Professor Mark Engebretson, created original musical scores in response to the paintings and the exchanges. To hear these stories and songs, participants can press a button on audio boxes under the banners -- which were designed and constructed by Derek Toomes’ Interior Architecture students.
Touch: Not only can the paintings be viewed, they can also be experienced by the blind and low-visioned. Installed beneath each banner is a touchable bas-relief bronze sculpture created by students in Assistant Professor Dane Winker’s Sculpture course, using a three-dimensional computer modeling program and traditional metal casting methods.
Adam Carlin, Director of Community Engagement for CVPA, initiated and has led the project, including the writing of grants totalling $27,900. He says it started as a way to support the School of Art’s community engaged activities, but it grew to something much bigger:
“This is a project that has the potential for far-reaching impact not only to UNCG students and Industries of the Blind employees, but for the entire community. Creating public art that is experienced through sight, sound, and touch has allowed UNCG students to expand their artistic practice to be more accessible for the community. It is our hopes that this approach can inspire countless other artists in our community. The project will also act as a window into Industries of the Blind, allowing them to share their thoughts, feelings, and hopes for anyone who passes by the building.”
Carlin says this is the first iteration of a three year project, and that there will be new art and new voices in the coming years:
“The partnership between Industries of the Blind and UNCG’s College of Visual and Performing Arts will be a long-running project as there are many stories to tell from people who are blind or low-vision that the community needs to hear. This collaboration will build a more inclusive community, provide education through art, demonstrate what people are capable of, and will highlight what IOB can provide to the surrounding community in the form of employment opportunities and personal growth for people who are blind or low-vision.”
Richard Oliver, Director of Community Outreach at Industries of the Blind, says the partnership has proven successful:
"Industries of the Blind is proud to collaborate with UNCG on such a tremendous project. These pieces of art capture the journeys of our associates and show the empowerment and sense of achievement that all Industries of the Blind associates strive for as they work towards their American Dream."
About Industries of the Blind
For more than 80 years, Industries of the Blind has been providing opportunities for employment and personal development for people who are blind or visually impaired to achieve greater independence. Since 1933, Industries of the Blind in Greensboro has been dedicated to eliminating barriers for our blind and visually impaired community. Industries of the Blind is about the power of possibility. We look forward to sharing more of that spirit with you.
The College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA) at UNC Greensboro is the premier and most comprehensive set of visual and performing arts programs in North Carolina with Schools of Art, Dance, Music, and Theatre. CVPA has been designated by the UNC System Board of Governors as an "area of distinction." CVPA transforms lives by providing exceptional artistic and academic experiences.
About UNC Greensboro
UNC Greensboro, located in the Piedmont Triad region of North Carolina, is 1 of only 40 doctoral institutions recognized by the Carnegie Foundation for both high research activity and community engagement. Founded in 1891 and one of the original three UNC System institutions, UNC Greensboro is one of the most diverse universities in the state with 20,000+ students, and 3,000+ faculty and staff members representing 90+ nationalities. With 17 Division I athletic teams, 85 undergraduate degrees in over 125 areas of study, as well as 74 master’s and 32doctoral programs, UNC Greensboro is consistently recognized nationally among the top universities for academic excellence and value, with noted strengths in health and wellness, visual and performing arts, nursing, education, and more. For additional information, follow UNCG on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.