Industries of the Blind and School of Art Public Art Project

Team Members
  • Chris Cassidy, Director, School of Art, UNCG
  • Maggie Murphy, Assistant Professor, First-Year Writing, Visual Art, and Humanities Librarian, UNCG
  • Richard Oliver, Director of Community Outreach and Governmental Relations, Industries of the Blind
  • Nicole Scalissi, Assistant Professor, Contemporary Art History, UNCG
  • Mariam Stephan, Associate Professor, Painting/Drawing, UNCG
  • Dane Winkler, Assistant Professor, Art-Sculpture, UNCG
 Abstract

The School of Art with support from the College of Visual and Performing Arts’ Community Arts Collaborative is embarking on an innovative project that pairs employees of Industries of the Blind (IOB) with students from the School of Art’s Painting/Drawing, Art History, and Sculpture Departments to create a highly visible public art piece on Gate City Boulevard to be experienced through sight, sound, and touch. IOB was founded in 1913 and is located on the corner of Gate City Boulevard. and Tate Street. Industries of the Blind currently employs 300 people, 70% of which are visually impaired.

Annually for the next three years, between 6 – 10 Painting III students in Mariam Stephan’s class will each be paired with a visually impaired employee at IOB to create paintings based on their conversations addressing ideas of independence, empowerment, and access. Each painting will then be printed on large 8 foot x 10 foot banners and installed on the exterior of the IOB building. Dr. Nicole Scalissi and her Art History students will record descriptive and contextual narratives to coincide with the banners to be housed in sound boxes installed underneath each banner. Passerbys and IOB employees can hear these narratives by pressing a button on the sound box.

Art History students will work with UNCG’s Digital Media Commons to edit these recordings to be engaging to a general and vision-diverse public. The audio material, as well as a transcript, will be publicly available both online (through a website hosted by UNCG’s library) and on Gate City Blvd to pedestrians of diverse vision abilities. Meanwhile, Professor Dane Winker’s Sculpture students will be creating bas-relief bronze sculptures as a three dimensional representation of the images created by the Painting III students using traditional casting methods and a more contemporary approach to form making utilizing a 3D modeling computer program. The relief sculptures will be placed beside the audio boxes so that the visually impaired will be able to experience the images through touch. This project will continue each year for at-least three years, with a new group of IOB employees and School of Art students creating new banners, relief sculptures, and corresponding audio tracks.