and if, between the two

July 16 to October 27, 2013

Through much of his career, artist Kenn Kotara, of Asheville, North Carolina has used the grid and geometric relationships in his work. Finding a similar structure in Braille writing led to his creation of this series based on Braille. Consisting of 18 hand-embossed paper bicolor paintings, the series is a logical extension of his previous work but raise new questions about the accessibility of art and how and what we choose to perceive. Just as visual art is largely inaccessible to the blind and Braille illegible to a most people, the language of abstract art requires a sort of literacy. With support from the Mary Josephine Larkins Charitable Foundation, the museum will collaborate with the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind and the artist in presenting a series of programs for blind and low vision children and adults. The series’ title and content of the Braille encoded artworks are from the 18 chapters of Walden, by Henry David Thoreau, which Kotara says affected him strongly as a teenager and which has vividly descriptive and questioning text. “…and if, between the two” refers to restricting vision voluntarily – “As you look over the pond westward you are obliged to employ both your hands to defend your eyes against the reflected as well as the true sun, for they are equally bright; and if, between the two, you survey its surface critically, it is literally as smooth as glass, except where the skater insects, at equal intervals scattered over its whole extent, by their motions in the sun produce the finest imaginable sparkle on it, or, perchance, a duck plumes itself, or, as I have said, a swallow skims so low as to touch it.” Chapter 9, Walden