Imagine a world without art.
That’s a reality for many blind and deaf individuals, who, unable to touch a painting or run their hands over a smooth sculpture, never learn to open the walls of their imaginations to experience the beauty of artistic expression, according to Shirley resident Marilyn Tucci, independent skills living specialist at the Suffolk Independent Living Organization,
Peconic Landing’s Art Without Barriers Sculpture Garden, where 18 sculptures from around the world are available for all to explore, is, for the second year, kicking off a program to help introduce art to those with physical challenges.
Today, approximately 30 blind guests from the Suffolk Independent Living Organization, including residents from the North Fork, Riverhead, and points west, came to tour the garden, some for the first time.
Blind-deaf interpreters were onhand to help the visitors absorb the experience by listening to the descriptive audio and experiencing the textile elements of the tour.
A sculpture garden that never closes, Art Without Barriers was developed by Dominic Antignano, Peconic Landing’s cultural arts curator.
The tour is free and open to the public Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. Guests are invited to bring picnics and begin at a brand-new, solar powered welcome kiosk, which was unveiled today.
Art Without Barriers focuses on accessibility, with a podcast “to make the visual verbal, via the use of descriptive audio, enabling people of various abilities to “see” the sculptures, a release explained.
Guests were able to use large print and Braille maps to tour the garden.
“I really enjoy working on this,” said Katie Carroll, who is legally blind. “This project means a lot, to make art accessible.”
Tucci said the blind and deaf who come to enjoy the tour come back more than once, and want to experience art the way anyone else would. “We’re people,” she said. “Don’t treat us differently.”
Also onhand was Frank Krotschinsky, director of Suffolk County’s Office for People with Disabilities.
Traditional museums don’t allow the blind or deaf to immerse themselves in the experience, Tucci said. “If you feel it, you can see it,” she said, adding that since being able to touch the sculptures, her imagination about what the sculptures might look like has blossomed. “This is the best thing in the world.”
Antignano said sensory gardens will also be developed, as well as paths for those with mobility issues.
Robert Syron, president and CEO of Peconic Landing, said the program exemplifies Peconic Landing’s goal of providing accessibility not just for residents, but for the greater community.
The sculpture garden has garnered interest from as far away as China, he said.
Of Anignano, he said, “He’s is amazing. No cultural arts programs can top what we offer at Peconic Landing. He’s an artist, and he cares. He leads with his heart.”
Added Carroll, “This is about bringing art to people who have difficulty enjoying it.”
The program just received an innovation award from LeadingAge NY. Today’s event was the launch of a program, “Art for Lunch,” where the public is invited to tour the sculpture garden during lunch at their convenience.