Art Beyond Sight at the DMA

October is nearly over and at the DMA we have had another fun month of Art Beyond Sight programing. This is our eighth year of presenting programs related to Art Beyond Sight and many of our programs focused on exploring works of art using senses other than vision. Art Beyond Sight Awareness Month, sponsored by Art Education for the Blind, is celebrated by over 250 cultural institutions all over the world and focuses on the idea that everyone must have access to the world’s visual arts in order to fully participate in his or her community. At the DMA, we hope to not only make our programs welcoming to visitors of all abilities, but to specifically raise awareness of making art accessible to people with vision impairment.

John Bramblitt talking about his artistic process with visitors in the studio.

John Bramblitt talking about his artistic process with visitors in the studio.

This year several of our programs for families, from First Tuesday to Arturo’s Art and Me related to Art Beyond Sight themes. Children had the chance to experience tables full of various textures and smells on First Tuesday and explore the galleries on a family tour focused on the senses. Toddlers explored texture in the African Art gallery and learned about Braille and raised line drawings. Even Arturo’s Nest, our space for children aged four and under, was stocked with toys and interactives that highlight the senses.

For several of our programs, we welcomed artist John Bramblitt, who has collaborated with us on ABS programming for the past 5 years. We love having John as an integral part to our programs; he is a favorite summer art camp special guest and often a featured artist at past large Museum-wide events. This year, John gave a gallery talk with an overview of his process as a painter who is blind. John focused on the way that he integrates music, texture, and even taste into his artwork. John brought several paintings and invited visitors to look closely–even to touch, something that is rare in an art museum!

John also helped to lead Meaningful Moments, our program for visitors with Alzheimer’s disease. This is John’s fourth year to be a part of the program and he is definitely a crowd favorite! This year, we focused on immersing participants in a sensory experienced focused on two paintings in the American galleries. John shared how he integrates a sense of place into his landscapes and then participants described the paintings in detail to John, as he sketched their descriptions onto a Styrofoam sheet. Over the years, I have noticed that visitors give some of the best and most detailed descriptions of artwork when asked to share their thoughts with John–and his drawing of the described painting certainly amazes! To help immerse visitors into each artwork, we played related sounds, shared scents that connect to the paintings, and passed around tactile objects inspired by the works. In the studio, participants used numerous materials with a range of textures to create their own textural landscape.

For both Late Night Studio Creations and our homeschool program, John helped us to explore artwork with music. In the studio, participants listened to different elements of the same song (vocals, piano, or the percussion instruments) and imagined a color for the song before creating a shape or design with oil pastel using their chosen color. After gluing their shapes to a larger piece of paper, John played the song in its entirety and invited visitors to imagine a color for the song. Visitors used watercolor paint to paint over their shapes to create their own musical-inspired artworks. The process of cutting shapes and piecing them together was inspired by one of John’s recent studio experiments of cutting up and reassembling dried paint. For the homeschool program, we linked the musical studio activity to the galleries through a discussion with John about a painting by Georgia O’Keeffe that was inspired by music and movement.

We have had so much fun with John this October for an enjoyable month of sensory exploration. For more information about the Art Beyond Sight programs at the DMA, please click here.

Amanda Blake
Head of Family, Access, and School Experiences

2 Responses to “Art Beyond Sight at the DMA”


  1. 1 Ashleigh Hibbins October 29, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    Reblogged this on The Museumphiles and commented:
    Art appreciation, participation, and education doesn’t end with the eyes!


  1. 1 Making Sense of Art | Dallas Museum of Art Uncrated Trackback on October 3, 2016 at 10:55 am
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