Touching art at a gallery or museum is generally against the rules, yet a new show at Santa Monica’s Bleicher/Golightly Gallery challenges this tradition, encouraging patrons to literally feel the exhibited art.
“Feel-Sighted,” a group exhibit, displays works created for that specific purpose. Artists, several of them visually impaired, invite viewers to don blindfolds and enjoy the works with their fingers, instead of their eyes.
Curator Anna Kim says the work is a collaboration between herself, gallerist Om Bleicher, a team of artists and The Center For The Partially Sighted.
Explaining the concept, she reveals. “Initially, I was just trying to find a different way to experience art, but things evolved. It's always taboo to touch work, so the challenge was to find artists who integrated touch as a key to experiencing their work. After some searching, I found The Center For The Partially Sighted, and things clicked.”
Launching September 3, a portion of the proceeds from Feel Sighted will be donated to The Center for the Partially Sighted, an L.A.-based nonprofit. The center brings technological training and assistance to those who have lost their sight to help them live independently, and also creates opportunities for them to lead fulfilling and productive lives.
Ladonna Ringering, CEO of the center, says the show is a great vehicle for helping the partially sighted, who use touch as a critical element for their therapy. “It encourages them to be more sensitive to their tactile environment. They can't enjoy art the way those with full sight do, so this gives them a valuable opportunity.”
Asked about the work, Bleicher/Golightly gallerist Om Bleicher offers, “Employing a diverse vocabulary of textures, forms, and even temperatures, these works invite new considerations and critiques of the traditional visual-only reception of art. It showcases artists who rely heavily on their senses of touch to create their works. The idea was to create work that felt as great as it looked and synthetically inspire the viewer to enjoy it wholly, not just through sight alone.”