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This photograph shows a view of six large banners installed on a tall, red brick wall. The banners show art works with vibrant colors and a range of compositions, from dynamic figures to quiet interior settings. Below the banners stand a group of fourteen people, side-by-side, of different heights, ages, and races.
A group photograph from the Year Two installation featuring Mariam Stephan’s painting students and Industries of the Blind employees. The employees hold original paintings by the students, on which the banners they stand below are based.

UNCG’s College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA) collaborated with Industries of the Blind (IOB) on the installation of a public art piece which tells the stories of the blind and low-visioned using sight, sound, and touch.

Founded in 1933, Industries of the Blind (IOB) is a not-for-profit manufacturing company employing people who are blind or visually impaired. IOB makes a range of high-quality products, including office products for use in the Federal Government and apparel for the United States Army and Marines.

The installation is located at the IOB building at the corner of Gate City Boulevard and Tate Street, one of the main entrances to the UNC Greensboro campus, and is the culmination of an innovative collaboration between the IOB and the CVPA’s School of Art and School of Music, as well as Interior Architecture, Creative Writing, Library & Information Science, and University Libraries.

To see and hear individual student work, click on the titles below to view these collections in our project repository.


collections

Paintings

Each year, students in Associate Professor Mariam Aziza Stephan’s Painting III class were paired with IOB employees for a series of conversations focused on ideas of independence, empowerment, and access. Based on those conversations, the students created paintings, which were then printed on 8’x10’ banners hung on the side of the IOB building.

This collection is in progress!

Each year, Art History students with Assistant Professor Nicole Scalissi work with the painters to record audio guides to the paintings, as well as oral histories and other narratives surrounding their creation, with the help of the Digital Act Studio and University Libraries’ Digital Media Commons.

This collection is in progress!

For Year Two, Creative Writing MFA students under the direction of Professor Xhenet Aliu created short prose and poetry pieces in response to the paintings and the exchanges. Year One collaborations featured the work of School of Music students, under the direction of Professor Mark Engebretson, who created original musical scores.

This collection is in progress!

To hear these stories and songs, participants at the installation site on West Gate City Blvd. can press a button on audio boxes under the banners — which were designed and constructed by Assistant Professor Derek Toomes’ Interior Architecture students.

RELIEFS

Not only can the paintings be viewed, they can also be experienced by the blind and low-visioned. For Year Two, This year, students in Professor Nikki Blair’s ceramic course created ceramic relief sculptures inspired by the banners above. Year One collaborations featured touchable bas-relief bronze sculptures created by students in Assistant Professor Dane Winkler’s Sculpture course, using a three-dimensional computer modeling program and traditional metal casting methods.

This collection is in progress!

We are currently wrapping up the second iteration of a three-year project. Next year, come see a new group of artwork and sounds created by a new group of IOB employees and College of Visual and Performing Arts students.


“Industries of the Blind is proud to collaborate with UNCG on such a tremendous project. These pieces of art capture the journeys of our associates and show the empowerment and sense of achievement that all Industries of the Blind associates strive for as they work towards their American Dream.”

Richard Oliver, Director of Community Outreach at Industries of the Blind, speaking to how this project has impacted their organization.

Adam Carlin, Director of Community Engagement for CVPA, initiated and has led the project, including the writing of grants totalling $27,900 from the UNCG Green Fund and Institute for Community and Economic Engagement.  He says it started as a way to support the School of Art’s community engaged activities, but it grew to something much bigger:

This is a project that has the potential for far-reaching impact not only to UNCG students and Industries of the Blind employees, but for the entire community. Creating public art that is experienced through sight, sound, and touch has allowed UNCG students to expand their artistic practice to be more accessible for the community. It is our hopes that this approach can inspire countless other artists in our community. The project will also act as a window into Industries of the Blind, allowing them to share their thoughts, feelings, and hopes for anyone who passes by the building.”

The project is partially funded by the UNCG Green Fund, which operates as a campus-based grant program that offers education, research, and professional development opportunities for students and employees by investing in campus infrastructure and programming to help meet the goals of the UNCG Climate Action Plan. Sean MacInnes, UNCG’s Sustainability Specialist remarks:

“The heart of UNCG’s mission is to make the world a better place by building thriving and vibrant communities. This project, with its synergistic connections to the environment, economics, aesthetics, and social equity, is an embodiment of that mission. This isn’t just a simple beautification or place-making project. It was a collaborative effort, it encourages interaction, and it elevates the connections we have with each other and with the places in which we live, work, and play. We’re excited to be a part of it and look forward to future iterations.”


NEWS & INFO

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Greensboro Industries of the Blind Logo
UNCG ICEE logo
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UNCG Department of Interior Architecture logo
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