Applications of theory of tactile pictures. From Axel and Levent,... Classroom and community

Applications of theory of tactile pictures. From Axel and Levent, 2003.
Classroom and community
Topic: art education now includes the blind.
Public schools: B. Armstrong: She takes children to major museums, & brings artists to
class. Key idea: “we can use art to evaluate their grasp of an idea” and “drawing or
modeling can give them an outlet and us insight” and “students must not only have
knowledge of art materials and be able to create with them, but be able to analyze works,
make connections to other arts and disciplines, and show an understanding of the diverse
cultures that shape artistic communication.” But she claims the blind need textured or 3D materials! And she argues “what one artist sees may be nothing like the vision of
another,” quite the reverse of our findings.
Museum and school collaborations: F. Rosenberg et al: She designs museum
experiences for the handicapped. Key idea: MOMA (Museum of Modern Art, NY) offers
“touch tours,” and a Visual Thinking Curriculum, to do with using evidence to interpret a
work. The rationale is “the hand unaided by sight can feel action, sentiment, beauty in the
cold marble…hate, courage and love” wrote Helen Keller (deaf-blind). This can be
multisensory: cold, smooth, hard marble, accompanied by incense, candlelight and flame,
with vivid verbal commentary, and children’s observations. Images should be sequenced
e.g. simple to complex, realistic to abstract. But she claims “the success of tactile
diagrams depends on their being used in conjunction with verbal guidance.” She adds
sighted children like the diagrams. Posing like art figures can help comprehension of art,
emotion and communication.
Art history at the college level: K. Wolff: She creates courses on art for blind college
students. Key idea: Access to our culture is everybody’s right. Our culture is our past,
present and imagined future, often made known through art. Our culture provides ideas
about violent landscapes (volcano landscape picture c.6150 bce), anger (Herakles
strangling Antaios, c.500 bce), richness and transcendence (mosaics 549 ace), agitation
and ecstasy (van Gogh’s Starry Night). The blind want to know about these.
Art education for lifelong learning: K. Spitzberg: She integrates the blind in classes for
the sighted. Key idea: Information can be “universal,” in visible slides and tactile
pictures. “Students respond to raised line drawings and are often very eager to experiment
with them and take in every detail.” Add jewelry, textiles and myths of the period. Use
the Nicolaides drawing technique: Feel with one hand while drawing with the other.
Art making for skill development: P. Rosen. Inspired by a large model, she develops
tasks that assist visually-impaired children understand spaces such as city blocks. Key
idea: Modelling fosters exploration and ideas about large spaces.
Art-based community projects with teenagers: M. Perttunen. Her students devised an
exhibition in their Finnish community. Key idea: The exhibition was multisensory, about
life at the times of the art.
Art therapy: Emphasizing process: J. Drower, L. Gerra. They look for creativity. Key
idea: “We must look beyond a student’s disability to access his or her creativity.” They
suggest: Reflect back the child’s action and expression, positively “mirroring,” gaining
trust, and fostering awareness. The multiply disabled are complex, with psychological
and emotional states as well as developmental stages, and many forms of expression.
Lowenfeld’s developmental stages are: Scribbling (somewhat accidental marks; then with
awareness the marks are made by the self; then marks with naming – “its Mom!”), then a
Preschematic stage (at age 4 to 7; deliberate form e.g. a schematic person), Schematic
stage (at age 7 to 9, a set of fairly fixed drawings for a person, a house, a car etc), Gang
age stage (9 to 12, the fixed drawings become more individualized, adapted to specific
circumstances), Pseudonaturalistic stage (12 to14, involves art as deliberate and critical
not spontaneous, with exaggerated male/female people and perspective), then the Period
of Decision (14 to 17), with purposeful learning about art and technique. Sitting behind
the student and “containing” the student in one’s arms can help with guidance, and allow
the child to follow what the teacher is doing with material on a table. This can defuse
tactile defensiveness, an unwillingness to touch some materials (cream, sand, paint etc).
Gradually other students can be involved, so the art is social. Some impaired people have
retreated into themselves and need to be gradually brought forward into exploratory
activities, then into creativity, expression and meaning.