St. Augustine Art Association celebrates Art Beyond Sight Awareness Month


By Courtney Hoston |

The St. Augustine Art Association is featuring its 12th Annual Tactile Art Show for the month of October, Art Beyond Sight Awareness Month. Partnering with the Florida School of Deaf and Blind, the Tactile Art show will feature touchable art that is visually intriguing while also engaging those that are vision impaired.

The tactile exhibit includes art from local artists, including current students of the Florida School of Deaf and Blind. Artists were challenged to create a touchable experience for blind patrons using paintings, sculptures, fiber art and a variety of other types of tactile art. Student volunteers from the Florida School of Deaf and Blind provided braille labels to accompany each entry in the exhibit.

According to the St. Augustine Art Association administrator, Elyse Brady, local artist Jean Light Willis discovered the Tactile Art show initiative. She began displaying touchable art in her personal gallery before expanding the exhibit to the Art Association. The tactile exhibit has provided the large, art-loving, vision-impaired population of St. Augustine with the opportunity to experience art.

“Usually patrons are asked to not touch the art. This exhibit expands accessibility for people that have no other way to experience the art,” Brady said.

Artists had the opportunity to enter their artwork into the exhibit to be judged by Flagler Alumna, Janine Regina-Fonseca for a number of awards and honorable mentions. Artists also had the option of offering their pieces for sale. Local artist, Paul Slava took first place with his extravagant, textured piece, “Jaques Cousteau is Dead.” Using unconventional art materials such as rubber, Slava created a piece that was both visually pleasing and texturized. Other honorable mentions include “Old Man,” a fiber art entry created by Margaret M. Pelton.

The Tactile Art Show has developed into the Art Association’s newest initiative, TOUCH St. Augustine. According to the Art Association, this initiative aims to create accessibility of the variety of visual art of St. Augustine for those that are vision impaired, including historic statues such as the statue of Henry Flagler. Braille signage will be added to the visual art. The Art Association hopes to begin the TOUCH St. Augustine initiative in early 2014.

The St. Augustine Art Association will celebrate its 90th Anniversary in 2014. The association hopes to continue to develop its relationship with the Florida School of Deaf and Blind and the vision-impaired population of St. Augustine.

The Tactile Art Show is free to the public Tuesday-Saturday from 12:00-4:00pm through October 27.

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