Skip Navigation

The Barker Code
of Color/Fabric Representation

    The Dayton Art Institute is very aware of the needs of the blind.  When the Degas collection came through, they made arrangements for a group of blind adults to come after hours and to see the works while wearing gloves.  Their web site is specifically designed for the visually impaired, and has won awards for its layout and descriptions.

  One Dayton resident spoke with excitement of being allowed to see the Degas collection, but was frustrated when he and his wife visited the museum and he had to listen to her descriptions of the pieces she was looking at.  After a short while, he said he  gave up and waited in the car for her to finish looking around.   While it is 'work' to look at these representations of great works, he enjoys it, and has formed opinions on which artist he feels speaks to him.

  He tells me that to look at these pictures, it is best to be seated at a table, or in a comfortable chair.  Hanging them on a wall is the least comfortable way to experience the art work.  A sighted person should always 'walk a person through' the art piece for the first time.  After that, and after answering questions, the blind person can return to look a the piece as they wish.  The capital Braille B in the upper left hand corner is the orientation marker.

Great Works of Art Pictures

Georgia O'Keeffe's Red Poppy.  The black center is terrycloth, which represents the 'fuzzy' quality of the painting, and has a plain back center which gives a different texture and follows the painting.  The different reds are also silky/satin but have different textures while still staying within the range.  The batting ranges from a very firm foam rubber to the very soft cotton filling.  The painting is completed with green velveteen for the stem, and cotton over soft cotton batting for the white edging.

 

   

Pablo Picasso - Woman Seated in a Chair, 1941

This is the first picture I made.  I should have known better!  It was good in the fact that there are a lot of straight lines, and all the colors on the code are represented.  But, it was extremely difficult, and all those tiny circles drove me up a wall!

 A man who has been blind since birth commented that he thought Picasso was a very angry person when he did this painting.   Picasso painted this in 1941, while the Germans were occupying Spain, his homeland.

Original at The Currier Galley of Art
 
This is "Icarus Fallen" by Henri Matisse.  The yellow flannel stars were difficult to do.  Many glues change the feel of the fabric, and flannel will ravel when it comes to the tiny points that were needed to reproduce Matisse's artwork. I ended up using a fray preventer, and lots of tiny, tiny stitches.   The black shaft in the center was difficult to work around, the cardboard backing beside the firm foam backing of the blue, and the light cotton backing  for Icarus make for an interesting touch.
This is a picture by Joan Miro, done from a newspaper article.  It is on a plain white cotton, with the simple fabrics, mostly glued on, and puff paint for the drawings.  Joan Miro is noted for his playful, childlike images.  A blind man has assured me that this feeling of joy comes through.
This is "Boules de Colour" by Alexander Calder.  Calder is famous for inventing the mobile, and this work also has the feeling of movement.  One blind person described it as balloons on a vine.  The black is puff paint again, but probably should have been black cotton on cardboard.  Puff paint doesn't do quite as well in such large areas.

 

This is "Blue Horses" by Franz Marc, a German artist who was influenced by the impressionist movement.  He was killed during World War II.

 

This is "The Scream" by Edvard Munch.  An interesting picture that looks better than this photo shows.  The red sky helps with the questions about emotions attached to color.  Red can be passion, anger, or horror.

 

 

Similar work is being done by Helen Bouch - http://artatyourfingertips.co.uk/