The Unseen Pleasures of Turning
During the 2010 Hartford AAW symposium, Malcolm Zander noticed a young blind woman, accompanied by a sighted young man, walking through the Instant Gallery. He felt bad for her as she was unable to see the pieces on display, and examining them by touch was not permitted. So he obtained one of his own pieces, a simple solid hollow form, and placed it in her hands. Her reaction was such that he resolved to try to organize a session at a future AAW event for such people, where they could explore some selected touchable pieces with their hands. He contacted Tib Shaw, curator of the AAW Gallery in Saint Paul, who had some experience in showing woodturnings to visually impaired people. It was agreed to stage a small trial session at the Saint Paul 25th Anniversary symposium.
Tib contacted the local Vision Loss Resources association for the visually impaired and organized the attendance of four blind participants, who arrived in a corner of the trade show area with two guides. Malcolm Zander invited four artists whose work was conducive to tactile examination – Al Stirt, Andi Wolfe, Betty Scarpino, and Bill Luce. They attended and each spoke to the group about their work. Michael Hosaluk also supplied several pieces. In addition, Al Stirt arranged for the group to examine a lathe, and Brent English of Robust Tools was glad to oblige.
The accompanying photos show the group meeting and examining some of the pieces. Andi commented, “It was the most amazing experience for me to watch how these individuals explored each piece with their hands.”