Special SculptureNow tour for vision impaired students – theberkshireedge.com

Blind and Visually Impaired Students get an up close and personal experience at SculptureNow exhibition at The Mount in Lenox.
Lenox — Last month, a small group of students, their teacher, and their parents, gathered with Ann Jon, Executive Director of SculptureNow, at the sculpture exhibition The Mount, Edith Wharton’s Home in Lenox.
This free, educational event has long been a tradition and collaboration between SculptureNow and Lynn Shortis, Teacher for the Visually Impaired at Pittsfield Public Schools.
The students, who are either blind or visually impaired, were encouraged to experience the exhibit by touching, sounding, and smelling the 30 sculptures on display.
The students benefited from the verbal descriptions given by Ann Jon and their teacher and then added other sensory information to build their own unique understanding of the sculptures. They could also have listened to the recorded audio tour that can be accessed by cell phone and is comprised of recorded statements by the artists describing their work.
However, this group of kids was too excited to stand still to listen to an audio. One small boy ran through Joe Chirchirillo’s “Earth Arch,” declared it was a wedding arch, and asked a little girl to marry him there and then, causing much laughter from children and adults.
Everyone was then encouraged to experience and identify all the varied textures of the Arch: concrete, rocks, pebbles, and tool marks.
At the 24-foot-long “Cecilia,” a large sculpture of a sea serpent by Robin Tost, an older girl studiously examined the textures and fabrication, while the younger kids chased each other under and around the sculpture.
Stopping at Mary Taylor’s sculpture, “Imminence,” the students were told it was a panther. This motivated them to find the body parts and examine the musculature.
While walking from one sculpture to the next, one student very skillfully taught Ann Jon how to use a White Guide Cane and how to correctly guide a walking, vision impaired person and described her experience of navigating to an understanding of 3-dimensional art. She also shared her dream of being able to have a self-driving car when she got a little older.
“I learned at least as much as I taught with this group,” says Jon. “Maybe one day this young girl will teach other vision- impaired students about how to experience and/or create sculpture.“
It was a small group, but as Lynn Shortis said afterwards, “Though I do love having our larger groups there, I can honestly say, this small group was fantastic! And the kids really got a lot out of it.”
It was also a much needed and appreciated opportunity for the parents to share experiences and exchange advice.
Jon said she was amazed by the energy and laughter from all participants in this event. “Sculpture” she said, “is a wonderful visual art medium for people with visual impairment to experience because it is 3-dimensional, and in this particular setting can be physically interacted with. These kids are getting a powerful and unique experience because they are taking it in with senses other than vision.”
SculptureNow looks forward to once again welcoming people with disabilities at their all-new sculptures in the 2023 exhibition at The Mount. For more information, visit SculptureNow’s website.
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