The exhibit, “Sensory: Please Touch the Art,” opens Oct. 6 and runs through Thursday, Nov. 10, at the UNO Art Gallery. Cunningham’s lecture will begin at 6:30pm in Room 128 of the Weber Fine Arts Building at UNO. Her work is also featured in the show.
Cunningham, pictured at right, began sculpting stone when she was 15 years old. In 1992, she began wondering if the low relief slate pictures she was making could be understood by someone who was blind. Answering that question has guided her for many years.
Below is Cunningham’s artist statement:
My art is not just about my ideas and concepts, it is also about the abilities and experiences of the people who interact with my work. For me, a work of art is completed when people engage with it. I base my work upon this belief.
What drives me is that by changing the experience of art engagement and by encouraging a more complete sensory experience, we can learn more about ourselves and how we fit into the world. Tactile/visual art also expands our understanding of how others with sensory differences effectively approach the world using alternative methods. It’s fun to discover new ways to see!
I am dedicated to making information about the world more accessible for people who are blind or visually impaired. If we can make access to information available, I feel it is our responsibility to do just that, and it can be intriguing visual artwork at the same time.
My work has been evolving through the years. Twenty years ago when I first made the decision to make my work tactually accessible, I sacrificed the visual in favor of the tactile when I came up against a design conflict I couldn’t resolve. Gradually I found that by making my visual art more poetic, by streamlining and eliminating visual clutter, I was no longer running into visual/tactile design conflicts.
As I progress into my next stage of work, it will include sound. I have recently been working with some computer scientists, and I can see that an audio element is going to become an important part of my design in the future. I am happy to be on this exciting journey and am looking forward to seeing where this road takes me. I would like to welcome you all along for the ride.
The exhibition, curated by Omaha artist Jamie Burmeister, will include several pieces made by middle school students via workshops led by WhyArts faculty. The exhibition and Cunningham’s lecture are free and open to the public.