Since 1999, I have led ceramics classes and workshops for individuals who are blind, visually and/or cognitively impaired. What began as series of annual workshops for K-12 students has since become engagement courses where University of Michigan Art and Design students partner up with people with disabilities, and together they make art.
I started out with a simple wish to share some of the opportunities and resources I have been fortunate enough to have. My background as a ceramic artist and as a person who is visually impaired also made me want to do something about bringing the low vision and sighted communities together through the medium of clay. So the programs began as a way to foster better understanding across physical, cultural, economic, and generational divides through art. For people with disabilities, I believe working collaboratively in ceramics helps independent thinking and working, self-pride and self-respect, social skills and communication. It is also just great to create something meaningful with your hands. In working with people with disabilities, their University of Michigan student partners gain deeper insight into art, ability, potential and the physically and social challenges of living with a disability. These Art and Design students also regain a sense of wonder in art and its language, something they often lose touch with in the academic setting.
I will always dream big. But I have also learned to make the small, steady steps that keep the social action of these programs moving forward and toward the larger goal of social change.
Gallery of images From ceramic classes, workshops, and events.