Thursday, April 10, 2008

I blogged too soon: grant award from DCCAH

Tuesday afternoon the fat letter from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities arrived, awarding me with my second (and final) Young Artist Project grant award. (Rejection letters are typically thin because they do not have all the additional tax paper work that needs to be filed upon acceptance).

The proposal was to create visually interesting work (for the bulk of us) that was also aesthetically interesting to the visually impaired.

The project proposal stems from a student I interviewed at American University (Paul) who is blind. The intention of that interview was to create a sort of video documentary/profile to gain some understanding - as a sighted individual - about how the world is perceived when blind. However, what I was learning in the course of the interview became far more interesting than a video piece. I knew, going into the interview, that Paul played saxophone in a jazz group, and was also a very talented classical pianist, so he did have some appreciation for the arts. But, part of what interested me was when he told me about experiencing the Torqued Ellipses and other serpentine sculptures of Richard Serra.

Every time I go to the National Gallery I marvel at Serra's steel sculpture that, if installed improperly, will kill the preparator. It's a piece that really cannot be felt like one of his Torqued Ellipse (at least, I'm not brave enough to touch it). You can walk through the ellipse and it will affect how you hear the space. If you are prodding through it with a white cane, it will also affect the dimensions of your boundaries - for example the wall might meet the floor over there, but every time I walk there I bump my head.

Think of how many other works of fine art can be experienced like that? Pieces that are heard and touched - as well as seen. My grant from DCCAH will fund a few pieces that should affect at least three of our five senses.

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