Posts Tagged ‘visually impaired’

The Tactile Museum

July 15, 2010

They took away what should have been my eyes, (But I remembered Milton’s Paradise). They took away what should have been my ears, (Beethoven came and wiped away my tears). They took away what should have been my tongue, (But I had talked with God when I was young). He would not let them take away my soul — Possessing that, I still possess the whole. Helen Keller

            Helen Adams Keller (1880 – 1968) was a deaf-blind American author, political activist and lecturer. She was the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. Her teacher, Anne Sullivan, broke through her isolation which had been imposed by a lack of language contact, allowing Keller to blossom as she learned to communicate. A prolific author, Keller was outspoken in her opposition to war. As a member of the Socialist Party, she campaigned for women’s suffrage and workers’ rights.

            Through the vision of Arizona State University Professor Emeritus Dr. Roger W.Axford, a copious writer and advocate of education for everyone, the Tactile Museum for the Blind and Visually Impaired was founded in 1994. Since that time, more than 120 valuable art pieces have been donated to the museum by such notable artists as John Henry Waddell, Glenna Goodacre, Craig Lynch, and Michael Naranjo. Waddell is known for his life size action figurative sculptures. Goodacre, most famous for her tribute to the nurses in Vietnam, is considered to be America’s sculptor. Craig Lynch lives in Phoenix where he sells real estate and sculpts.

Michael Naranjo, a New Mexico native who was blinded as a soldier in Vietnam, found  inspiration in nature and what art he remembers seeing in galleries while growing up in his hometown of Taos, New Mexico. The Academy Gallery in Florence, Italy, and the Louvre in Paris have allowed him to examine their treasures-—in Paris, the Medici Venus, and in Florence, Michelangelo’s David. The authorities granted this rare privilege of allowing him to observe the masterpieces by touching them. By touch, Naranjo was able to observe minute details of the statues, such as the fact that in the eyes of Michelangelo’s statue, the pupils are shaped like hearts. But while he observes the eyes in other sculptors’ work, his own statues never have eyes, something it takes a while to realize as one appreciates the many other aspects of his work.

            The Tactile Museum was officially turned over to The Foundation for Blind Children as a gift from its original founders in1998. The Foundation for Blind Children provides education, tools and services that enable all persons with vision loss to achieve greater independence.

Governor Rose Mofford, businessman Eddie Basha, and Tempe Mayor Neil Guiliano were among the original founding members. Dr. Axford’s vision for this museum was threefold. He wanted to provide a forum for the presentation of art for blind and visually impaired people. He wanted to encourage artists to create art experienced by senses other than, but not excluding, sight. Finally, Axford wanted art to be used as an education tool for the sighted to gain insights into the blind experience. The mission of the Foundation for Blind Children is to help blind and visually impaired children, adults, and their families lead lives of independence and dignity through mastery of their environment. This is accomplished through education, training, counseling, communication, and technology.

Tactile Museum for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Foundation for Blind Children, 1235 E. Harmont Drive, Phoenix, AZ. 85020 Tel 602-331-1470 Web Site