Artists Make Tactile Art for the Fingertips of the Blind

Artists are producing tactile art for the vision-impaired and the blind.

George Wurtzel

Art enriches life—we know this. We venerate the masters who create unforgettable paintings and sculptures, choreographers whose dances lift us up, and great photographers whose images let us in on new ways to see the world and each other. To anyone who’s seriously vision-impaired or blind, though, this is all theoretical and out of reach, and a number of artists are taking it upon themselves to address this unfairness

George Wurtzel is a blind instructor at Enchanted Hills Camp for the Blind in Napa, California, helping to teach the newly blind a range of blindness skills. He’s been a professional woodworker doing architectural millwork, “Which makes me an art-isan more than an art-ist,” he says. Or so he claims. Wurtzel recently converted a barn into the Tactile Arts Center to help people at the camp “expand their artistic horizons” by teaching them how to create artworks by feel.

About five years ago, artist Andrew Myers—who is sighted and lives in Laguna Beach, CA—came to realize that his own work had a tactile aspect he hadn’t appreciated until a chance encounter with a blind man at an art show. Now, with his own eyes wide open to the power of tactile art, he’s created a special surprise for Wurtzel to hang in the Tactile Art gallery, as you’ll see in this video from Cantor Fine Art.

Part of what makes the story of Wurzel’s surprise so sweet is the video’s musical score, which includes a song composed, performed, and recorded by blind students at the Academy of Music for the Blind. Talented blind musicians are nothing new of course, but the song is great, and so is this video of how they produced it.

Is the universe a graveyard? This theory suggests humanity may be alone.

Ever since we've had the technology, we've looked to the stars in search of alien life. It's assumed that we're looking because we want to find other life in the universe, but what if we're looking to make sure there isn't any?

According to the Great Filter theory, Earth might be one of the only planets with intelligent life. And that's a good thing (NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team [STScI/AURA]).
Surprising Science

Here's an equation, and a rather distressing one at that: N = R* × fP × ne × f1 × fi × fc × L. It's the Drake equation, and it describes the number of alien civilizations in our galaxy with whom we might be able to communicate. Its terms correspond to values such as the fraction of stars with planets, the fraction of planets on which life could emerge, the fraction of planets that can support intelligent life, and so on. Using conservative estimates, the minimum result of this equation is 20. There ought to be 20 intelligent alien civilizations in the Milky Way that we can contact and who can contact us. But there aren't any.

Keep reading Show less

Beyond the two cultures: rethinking science and the humanities

Cross-disciplinary cooperation is needed to save civilization.

Credit: Public domain
  • There is a great disconnect between the sciences and the humanities.
  • Solutions to most of our real-world problems need both ways of knowing.
  • Moving beyond the two-culture divide is an essential step to ensure our project of civilization.
Keep reading Show less

Stephen Hawking's black hole theory proved right

New study analyzes gravitational waves to confirm the late Stephen Hawking's black hole area theorem.

Model of spiraling black holes that are merging with each other.

Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
Surprising Science
  • A new paper confirms Stephen Hawking's black hole area theorem.
  • The researchers used gravitational wave data to prove the theorem.
  • The data came from Caltech and MIT's Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory.
Keep reading Show less