‘Please Touch the Art’: a blind man reacts to touching his portrait for the first time.

Martina CavalieriArtLeave a Comment

george-wurtzels-final-portrait-in-screw-with-paint

In our previous articles, we have already talked about how 3D printing is revolutionizing the world of art, even in the field of visual disability.

Many pieces of art are being transformed into embossed paintings that can be touched by blind people, too; an example we have reported is the three-dimensional Mona Lisa, produced by the Unseen Art team.

Today, we want to give you another example of tactile art by the Californian artist Andrew Myers who, instead of paper and paintbrushes, prefers using wooden boards, colors and… screws!

Yes, that is it.

This talented artist’s works are very successful and well known in the field of contemporary art because of their distinctive nature. Not only Andrew creates paintings with the use of paintbrushes, but he also manages to make his paintings three-dimensional thanks to a meticulous use of screws.

“I always start from the highest point, which usually is the nose”, Meyers says. “Those screws stick out much more. Then I try to understand the height of the cheekbones and chin, and also the corners of the mouth”.

One day, a blind man discovered a screw painting by Andrew Myers with his hands. The blind man complimented him because the work could be touched and not just observed. Andrew considers this moment as one of the most inspiring of his career.

Think about how many times have you seen these words: “PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH” and now ask yourselves a question: why has art become so inaccessible?

Prior to 1800, tactile interaction was commonplace for visitors experiencing collections of art, but as museums of art evolved, rules forbidding touch became the norm. Mostly to protect them, paintings, sculptures and other artworks can only be observed “behind the red chord”.
This is why the Cantor Fine Art gallery, together with the artist, decided to create a documentary that elevates the role of tactile art within visually impaired community. It was at that point that they met George Wurtzel, a blind artisan and teacher working at Enchanted Hills Camp.

Enchanted Hills Camp is 300-acre summer camp for the visually impaired that is nestled in the woods above Napa Valley, where George teaches others, through example, how to use the tools necessary to become artisans.

Currently, George is converting an old grape crushing barn into an art gallery. The top floor of the building is his working shop, while the bottom floor will be a tactile gallery space where visually impaired can experience and sell artwork.

Cantor Fine Art and Andrew Myers admired the man’s determination and wanted to support George’s project by surprising him with a tactile portrait of himself, which will be the first piece of art of the gallery.

Myers started working and completed the painting in 2 months, using 4000 screws. When he gave the work to George, the old man burst out laughing and kept repeating the phrase “Mind boggling!”

George Wurtzel’s photo on a tabletop

George Wurtzel’s photo on a tabletop

 

Andrew Mayer is drawing George Wurtzel’s face on a wooden board

Andrew Mayer is drawing George Wurtzel’s face on a wooden board

 

A photo of Meyer’s artwork, unpainted

A photo of Meyer’s artwork, unpainted

 

George Wurtzel smiling after touching his 3D portrait

George Wurtzel smiling after touching his 3D portrait

 

In the documentary “Please Touch the Art” you can listen to the story of this fascinating project:

This shows us that not every piece of art needs to be touched to move us.

Recently, several museums are making efforts to identically replicate famous pieces of art in order to make visually impaired people able to touch them, and here at blind.tech we hope many more museums will join the initiative!

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Martina Cavalieri
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Martina Cavalieri

I’m a 26 years old Italian graphic designer with a passion for typography and company branding. I have an MA in Industrial and Graphic Design and I’m currently Graphic Designer at Horus.

In my spare time I write for my art blog called Martineken and I keep pursuing my interest by doing graphic concepts and mock-ups.
Martina Cavalieri
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Questo articolo è disponibile anche in: Italian