Ann Lapidus participated in almost all of the touch art workshop series and sat down with me to talk about her experience in the classes and where she’d like to see the project go from here. Ann was born sighted and lost her sight as a young adult, she has been blind for the past 6 years. Now she is very independently navigating the world and developing an arts practice of her own. Ann has taken ceramics classes in the past and has been refining her skills at the pottery wheel for the past few years. In the precious metal clay class and the ceramics class she worked on developing some new skills of texture detail and hand-building in clay.
What were some of the things you enjoyed in your Touch Art Classes?
The teachers really got that there was nothing about the material that required vision. It didn’t feel like a big inconvenience for them to make modifications for the blind community
In your opinion, what is the ideal outcome of the Touch Art Project?
I’d like to see artists in the area be more aware that this is happening. Ideally this would happen again and include more artist/volunteers. With a larger group of supporters, more people could learn about accommodations in a low-pressure environment. Volunteer assistants can feel comfortable asking questions and learning in a hands-on way without the pressures of being ‘in-charge’. Being in a hands-on learning environment is so helpful!
Overall, I see the Touch Art project as a step towards a bigger shift towards inclusion in the arts. There will be lots of tiny steps to bring Pittsburgh to true inclusion and Touch Art is a great starting place!
What are your recommendations for next steps?
When you have your arts-educators seminar in January, I’d like to see demos of the process and blind folks talking about their experience.
This workshop series was focused on providing an art making space for the blind community in a separate space. True inclusion wouldn’t need this separation but it is a starting place – people need direction to learn how to accommodate before they can have full inclusion
In the next phase of the project it would be great to have blind folks as teachers, maybe partnered with a sighted person to teach classes focused on fine craftsmanship. Students could be put under blindfold and blind instructors could show students their capabilities first hand.
If the Touch Art Project can start to convince people to be more inclusive and prove that it’s not such a scary process, I would consider the project to be a big success! We just have to show people how it’s done and we can move forward towards true inclusion.