During the 2012-2013 school year at the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind’s ASB campus, more than 65 students received art lessons and experimented with various materials and techniques that allowed them to express themselves creatively both inside and outside of a classroom environment.
“Art is a great way for visually impaired students to experience abstract ideas in a concrete form,” ASB principal Charlotte Lowry said.
According to Lowry, art classes at ASB are tailored to students and their individual needs and specific learning styles. However, all students are challenged with developing and using their critical thinking skills and dexterity skills using a variety of methods.
“It depends on their vision,” Lowry said. “All kinds of things are taken into consideration, such as texture and style. Their vision is different. There are different learning styles. There are different abilities, even interests.”
Students at ASB experience a variety of art techniques using an array of mediums, including sand, paper, wood, felt, clay, pencils, colored pencils, string, spin art, crayons, photography, printmaking, stamping, gluing, fruit printing, nature printing, Plexiglas mono printing, batik, oil pastels, chalk, watercolors, acrylic paint, fabric dying, wind chime design, jewelry making, window painting and design work using iPad applications.
“It’s just another part of the expanded core curriculum for visually impaired students, for them to experience all types of learning mediums, to be the best they can be,” Lowry said.
Chase Lowe of Albertville is no stranger to being the best artist that he can be. The seventh-grader said that art is one of his favorite things about ASB and has taken art classes since last year.
If someone told Lowe that art was something visually impaired people could not do, he would have a few simple words for them.
“I’d tell them I painted a picture and it won first place nationwide,” he smiled.
Lowe is one of 20 ASB students who had entries in American Printing House for the Blind's Annual "APH Insights" Juried Art Contest. Lowe’s painting, “Bowl of Pears,” was a first-place winner in the category for fourth, fifth and sixth grades in the contest last year. “Under the Sea” by Nyzier Posey won first place in the category for first, second and third grades.
Both Lowe and Posey were honored at the APH InSights Art Ceremony held in Louisville, Ky., Oct. 18, 2013.
Each year, APH sponsors “APH InSights,” a unique art competition and exhibit that is exclusively for legally blind artists of all ages and skill levels. The competition draws entries from across the country and around the world, and furthers APH’s mission of “promoting independence of persons who are blind” by providing a forum for creative individual expression.
Almost 400 entries were entered in 2013. First, second and third awards, along with several honorable mentions, were selected in each of nine categories.
The Liz Moore Art Foundation Christmas card art contest was another excellent experience for eighth-grade ASB student Kar’misha Weaver, who won first place for her painting “Welcome Home Soldiers for Christmas,” and first grade ASB student Mia Smith, who won second place for her self-portrait painting, “All I Want for Christmas is my 2 Front Teeth.”
The contest is open to all visually impaired students in the state of Alabama.
Both Weaver and Smith were honored in December and their art will be featured on the Liz Moore Art Foundation’s 2014 Christmas cards.
Art teachers at ASB have been adamant about exposing their students to all of the opportunities before them, namely art competitions that inspire students to work hard and work creatively.
Lowe credits his art teacher Liz Jones with being his inspiration.
“It’s really fun and she’s shown me a lot of things I didn’t know,” Lowe said. “I knew how to draw and sketch but some things she’s shown me, like how to use pastels, I didn’t know.”
Lowe said that there is no one thing that he likes to paint but if something comes to mind he tries his best to paint or draw it.
For Christmas, Lowe received art supplies like paintbrushes, pastels, canvases and color pencils that he plans to put to good use this year.
Lowe said if he had to sum up his definition of art into one word, it would be fun.
“I can take anything that comes to mind and put it on paper and show it to whomever,” Lowe said.
“Lowe, Posey, Weaver and Smith are just a few shining examples of what students can achieve when ‘Believing in What Can Be’ and painting with all of the colors in front of them,” Lowe said. “Art has shown me that my life could be more colorful.”
Contact Shane Dunaway at email@example.com