Art lessons for the visually impaired

    The Wills Eye Institute in Center City Philadelphia is selling dozens of pieces of sculpture out of its 8th floor lounge. All the works were created by visually impaired artists.

    The Wills Eye Institute in Center City Philadelphia is selling dozens of pieces of sculpture out of its 8th floor lounge. All the works were created by visually impaired artists.

    For 35 years the Philadelphia Museum of Art has run the Form In Art workshop, introducing visual art to those with little or no vision. The works are mostly tactile, using lots of rope clay, but there is color. Color holds intellectual and emotional importance to blind artists.

    Eiko Fan has been an instructor for 23 years, and still has some of the same students from when she started.

    “Once somebody tried to quit, and I said, you have to keep going until you drop dead, right? And then she started coming again. And she did drop dead, but she did sculpture until the last minute.”

    Fan suggested her students explore the sculptor Rodin, and make copies of his iconic work, The Thinker. Artist Shirley Brottman says a visit to the Rodin Museum on the Parkway was inspirational.

    “The way he made his characters, they’re really large and kind of exciting. When you look at them you can imagine the day and time it was created, you know? “

    Strictly speaking, many of the visually impaired artist did not look at the Rodin sculptures. But, to the envy of many sighted patrons, artists in the Form In Art program are allowed to touch pieces in the Philadelphia Museum of Art galleries.

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