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The Library Company of Philadelphia Explores the History of Education for the Blind

Artist-in-residence Teresa Jaynes’s exhibition combines her own original works with historical collections that document the education of the blind in the 19th century.

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Common Touch: The Art of the Senses in the History of the Blind is a multimedia exhibition that looks at historical embossed and raised-letter documents for the visually impaired as a starting point for a multi-sensory exploration of the nature of perception. Inspired by her research in the Library Company’s Michael Zinman Collection of Printing for the Blind, artist-in-residence Teresa Jaynes’s exhibition on display until October 21, 2016 combines her own original works with historical collections that document the education of the blind in the 19th century.

Common Touch immerses visitors into a world of discovery in which history intersects with new forms of tactile expression. Complemented by 19th-century personal narratives, raised-print textbooks, and teaching tools of the visually impaired, Jaynes’s original works challenge our cultural assumptions about the interrelationship between art, sight, and the history of disability. Exhibition visitors are invited to touch displays that range from a topographic map with porcelain geometric forms that represent the travels of a prominent 18th-century English blind surveyor to movable, sculptural letters after the handwriting of a blind woman corresponding with a benefactor in the late 19th-century.

For more information about the exhibition and its accompanying programming, visit commontouch.librarycompany.org.

Common Touch has been supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. Partners include Art-Reach, Demeter Fragrance Library, Inc., the Gershman Y, Institute onDisabilities at Temple University, Monell Chemical Senses Center, Philly Touch Tours, and Philly Jazz Project initiative. Media sponsorship has been generously provided by WHYY.