Apr 272005
Authors: Julie Abiecunas

Imagine being blind and going to an art museum, unable to experience the beautiful works of art and feeling left out from the artistic experience.

This year's second annual "A Touch of Art" exhibit strives to correct that problem by putting on an exhibit specifically for the blind community, where artwork can be both touched and explained by the artist.

Peter Jacobs, a professor in the art department, started the exhibit after a student's legally blind mother, Linda Benefiel, expressed a desire for the exhibit. Benefiel attended a field trip to the Denver Art Museum with her daughter's class, where she was given the rare opportunity to go behind the ropes and touch some masks that were on display.

Once back at school, Jacobs allowed Benefiel to feel some of the masks his own class had been working on. Benefiel loved the experience of getting to touch the artwork and was so enthusiastic about it, she wanted to find a way to share it with others.

"I just kept thinking, 'I wish this was available for everyone,'" Benefiel said.

The next year, Benefiel urged Jacobs to share his students' artwork with the blind community, and thus, "A Touch of Art" was born.

Benefiel feels that providing "A Touch of Art" to the blind community is a priceless experience, as nothing can compare to being able to feel the art firsthand.

"Usually we're just told how a piece of artwork looks, which is hard because everyone describes things differently, and you might not always get the best descriptions," Benefiel said.

Jacobs' teacher's assistant, Robin Bourdelon, a post-graduate art education major, agreed and is glad to have been able to help provide this exhibit to the community because getting artwork to the masses for enjoyment can sometimes be a difficult task.

"We're always 'preaching' about the benefits of art, but a lot of times that's easier said than done," Bourdelon said. "It's cool to see that actualized in this project."

The bulk of the exhibits in this year's show will be wooden masks, created by Jacobs Foundations of Sculpture class. Junior graphic design major Matt Fetcher said his mask for this year's exhibit is made from maple wood with horse tail accents, a piece that will surely provide plenty of texture variation to the touch.

While this year's show may only include masks, it is Benefiel's dream to one day have other classes include their sculptures and paintings in the show.

Jacobs is also interested in expanding the show and is glad the art department is able to put on such a positive exhibit.

"It's really nice we can provide an experience like this. So much of art is stereo-typed as being only visual," Jacobs said.

Ledlie Mosch, a senior art history major who has worked as Jacobs' teaching assistant, was not surprised he is putting on this type of exhibit.

"He's definitely a father figure. He's always very approachable and likes to get involved and be interactive with his students. I think it's really great what he's doing with this project for the community," Mosch said.

While the exhibit's main purpose is to provide an art experience for the blind community, Jacobs also feels his students benefit.

"I think the students get just as much out of helping with this exhibit as do the people who see it," Jacobs said.

"A Touch of Art" will run from 4 to 5 p.m. on Tuesday in the art department. Student artists will be available to help people through the exhibit and provide descriptions of the pieces.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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