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Cane Travel General Colorado Center Information Independence Training Program Senior Programs Youth Services

The First Week of Summer Means Lots of Firsts

Amber turns dirt over in the garden with Annette and Master Gardener Barb

No matter what the calendar says, it’s the first week of summer. The temps are in the 90s, the garden is being planted and summer staff are shadowing their ITP staff counterparts. Friday 25 teenagers (summer students) begin arriving and on Monday the elementary Confidence Camp kids start too.

So here’s another first or two. Above, Amber uses a spade for the first time out in the garden. When asked if she’d dug with a shovel before she promptly answered, “I’m about to.” And then she proceeded to do it. In the process she and classmate Annette planted this years pumpkin and zucchini hills.

Tyler went on his solo drop this morning, returning in time for lunch. He traveled in the heat out to Aurora in order to make his way back to Littleton. “It’s a good thing the light rail was the last stop,” he admitted. “I fell asleep on the bus three times.” Nonetheless, Tyler’s completed the daunting final travel challenge we call “the drop”. That is, he was driven around for a while (sometimes in circles), and let out with no information about where he was. He successfully used his travel skills to make his way back to the Center asking no more than one question.

Danielle made a first when she used the hot glue gun. “I was always told I wouldn’t be able to do that because I was blind,” she said. In fact, blind people are often told such things simply because no one knows how or cares to figure out how a blind person can do a task. “There aren’t many of those things left now,” Danielle reflected. “and now I’ve done this one too!” She’s been working with fellow art classmates Brad and Annette on a tactile map of the area covering the Center and the Littleton Downtown Station, including the light rail tracks and the bus loop.

That’s really what the Colorado Center for the Blind is all about – the things we as blind people have figured out how to do for ourselves, with or without the assistance of sighted teachers. The trick is to question the warnings that a blind person can’t do a certain task because, it often turns out that a lot of blind people have already done it!
Mashup of Tyler before and after his solo Drop

 

Danielle uses a hot glue gun for the 1st time, Ann Cunningham gives direction and in the background Brad uses the paper cutter
Duane Plants cucumbers
Marqus plants pole beans under a trellis
Phillis walks to the Center for the Senior meeting and senior art class with her dog Tylee
Brad leads on travel with ITP instructor Charles Bennett, shadowed by Summer Instructor  Jackson Schwoebel

 

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General Colorado Center Information

#Accessible #TactileArt with @ArtACunningham at @DenverArtMuseum on “@_EyesOnSuccess

Ann explores tactile art with a group of blind students at the Denver Art MuseumOur long-time art instructor and national leader in tactile access to art and science Ann Cunningham was in the artists’ make-a-space at the Denver Art Museum (DAM) in February. A group from the Colorado Center for the Blind visited DAM and Ann’s exhibit and art-making on February 9. The collaboration between DAM and Ann caught the attention of others, resulting in this episode of the popular podcast, “Eyes on Success” – and interview by podcasters Peter Torpey and Nancy Goodman Torpey of Ann and folks at DAM.

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General Colorado Center Information Independence Training Program Senior Programs

One Whole Day for Holiday Art & Ornaments #sharelittleton

Art teacher Ann Cunningham works with seniors and ITP students

Tuesday is art day anyway, but this week it was art day all day long. Every student and staff member worked in the art room with Ann Cunningham and Jenny Callahan making ornaments, holiday cards or what ever else suited their fancy. Without a doubt , everyone enjoyed the break from regular classes and the chance to get into the holiday spirit!

Marqus glazes the clay on a lazy suzan for a votive candle holder he is making
Showe holds up a clay ornament she made that spells out Trela with a heart underneath

 

Michael holds up a couple of Braille Christmas Cards he made
Justin holds up a clay dog ornament he made from memory in the likeness of a favorite dog that is no longer with us

 

Mickey just finished decorating a clay gingerbread man ornament with gumdrops sequens and glitter
Jen is working on making a clay ornament of Thomas the Train for her son

 

Judi fits a tall white candle into a clay base she is shaping into a candle holder
Ann shows Holly and Tyler how to use the pasta machine to flatten out clay to make ornaments

Ann works with the Travel staff, Steve, David, Daniel and Martin on decorating cinnamon baked modeling clay ornaments - samples of the finished pieces are inset above.jpg

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Events General Colorado Center Information Independence Training Program Senior Programs

A Peek at Hands-on with the “Shared Visions” 2017 Exhibit @ArapahoeCC #TactileAccess

Adia, Mason M. and Cezar look at the Old Man Wincing while Ravi reads the description provided in Braille

Here are a few photos from the Shared Visions reception at the Colorado Gallery of the Arts at Arapahoe Community College on Thursday night. Everyone got hands on with pieces from Nathan Abels’ painting and drawing classes. CCB students also had laser-cuts of drawings they made in Ann Cunningham’s art class with accompanying Haiku, and CCB alum Jenny Callahan had a number of stone carvings and a bronze in the show. The Seniors art class had bowls thrown on the wheel in Katie Caron’s ceramics studio. Katie brought her daughter, who insisted on wearing sleepshades so she could try to identify the art tactilely.

“This is the best thing we do all year,” said one CCB staff member. While some may argue in favor of another activity associated with the center, the Shared Visions art exhibit, now in its fourth year, is an extraordinary opportunity for everyone.

The show remains open at the Colorado Gallery of the Arts until November 22.

Ravi adds color to her drawing which will be laser-cut for the show
Ravi shows Julie her laser cut image with Haiku -

 

Laura looks at a piece made with various screws
Katy holds up her daughter who is wearing sleepshades so she can touch a tactile piece of the mountains

Phillis shows Chris P. and Julie the bowls she threw on the wheel at ACC

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General Colorado Center Information

Tactile Art Club to Hold First Meeting Jan. 17 at CCB

An alabaster sculpture with flowing and spiky elements
“Flames and Waves”, Stone carving by Yolanda Thompson

The first-ever meeting of a new Tactile Art Club will meet at CCB from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, January 17. It will be held monthly on the third Tuesday of each month.

Our long-time collaorator and art instructor, Ann Cunningham, CCB alum Jenny Callahan and CCB Tech Instructor Yolanda Thompson hatched the idea, inspired in part by the first-ever NFB Tactile art and Tactile Graphics Symposium held at the National Center for the Blind in Baltimore last December.

“The idea is to grow a community around the idea of access to tactile art and tactile graphics,” Says Ann.

Meetings will be divided into two parts. The first hour or so will be for artists to bring in new works and discuss technical issues with their colleagues. The second part will be a presentation on a specific technique or aspect of making art in the form of presentations by club memters or guests.

Ann will be the first presenter, demonstrating the steps required to make a bronze sculpture. she will show how her process evolves from getting an idea, to gathering reference materials, creating paper models, making an armature and sculpting the clay. Then she will demonstrate how she makes a mold and pours the wax.

If you are interested in multi-sensory approaches to art, please join us!

For more information contact Ann Cunningham at:

[email protected]

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Challenge Recreation General Colorado Center Information Home Management Independence Training Program Senior Programs

Belted Kingfisher, Orange Belts and Yoga’s Doggie Down: A Typical Tuesday at CCB

So this is how Tuesday goes at CCB sometimes.

First thing this morning Alie Mays came for our “Birdying by Ear” class. Seven of us reviewed recordings of local bird songs, then walked over to Sterne Park, where we heard mallards, doves, goldfinches and of course Canada geese. Today’s mascot was the belted kingfisher, an unexpected find. He just kept calling and calling as he circled over the pond.

Allie Blanca C.G Dan and Mike walking around the pond at Sterne Park during Birding Class
A Mallard drake and two hens swim in the pond at Sterne Park
Alie quizzes the class on local bird sounds

In the Senior Resource Room something was happening called sugar scrub. Jenny Callahan led Seniors in making sugar scrub, using sugar (surprise) and oil and scents like lavender and almond. Whatever it is, it sure sounded fun to make, judging by the giggles and cackles.
A group of a dozen seniors along with CCB staff work on making sugar scrub
Our current Martial arts class is in its sixth week of kicking and punching their way to confidence and self-reliance. Wow! This group will get their orange belts and certificates before leaving for the holidays!
Rachael has the Martial Arts class practice a crouched defensive move

Our own Diane McGeorge led a philosophy discussion today. Our founder and a long-time leader in the National Federation of the Blind, Diane’s convictions about the capacity of blind people and her explanation about why the Colorado Center for the Blind needed to come into being were definitely something no one wanted to miss.
Diane speaks to the philosophy class
At lunch, Jackson served a great “mini-meal” of German meatballs over pasta, garlic bread and chocolate chip zucchini bread. Sad part: only fifteen of us got invited!

“Better than a restaurant,” said his travel instructor David.
Jackson with his servers Chris and Hindley and 2 plates on the counter ready to eat
Then there was the Senior art class downstairs, followed by the ITP art class. This is the fourth and final meeting for this latter group and for the year. Today’s lesson from Ann Cunningham was perspective using the Sensational Drawing Board. Stuff like “diminution of size.” That sort of thing. A new group will start up in January.

Ann works with C.G and Jackson on perspective drawingAfter hours our weekly yoga class was meeting to help us unwind a bit.

Is it like this every Tuesday. Almost, and though a few things will be missing from next Tuesday, it will be Colorado Gives Day, and plenty busy!

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General Colorado Center Information Independence Training Program

Sharing art before next week’s Shared Visions @artacunningham @ArapahoeCC

Wearing sleepshades, Jackson and Blanca work with 2 ACC students on arranging items for thermaform sculpturesWith just a week to go before the third annual exhibit, “Shared Visions Collaborative Artworks”, some Center art students traveled to Arapahoe Community College to make some art and to offer some feedback to painting students on their tactile works.

A black plastic sheet impressed with an apple atop one open and one closed bookFor their very first class with Ann Cunningham, the newest group of CCB art students composed objects on a flat plane and then used a thermoform machine put together by Ceramics Instructor Katie Caron. Some of the results are shown in the photo above – plastic sheets that, using a combination of heat and a vacuum, conform to the shapes of the objects. It’s basically the same process used in product packaging, but way more legit.

After finishing their thermoform pieces, students walked over to the painting studio and consulted with members of Nathan Abels’ class, who’ve been working on paintings with strong tactile elements. The painting class got a chance to get feedback from viewers using only their hands to experience the works.

“I think this is just awesome!” said CCB student Jackson Schwoebel, remarking On the notion that the entire painting class was producing works he could experience tactilely.

At the same time, Abels’ painting students were excited to learn how the elements of their work rendered for their blind visitors.

Blanca offers critique to an ACC student on her face, fur and feathers painting

A young woman tactilely examines a detailed sculpture that features a large eye in the center

All students in our Independence Training Program (ITP) eventually take an art course that lasts four sessions. While some of the specific activities may vary from class to class, the principles covered are the same: Art appreciation by introducing tactile literacy, spatial awareness, the basics of drawing using the Sensational Blackboard (which includes aspects of perspective), and a creative project. For this last, each class works in a different medium, ceramics, stone carving or, in this case, thermoform. an earlier class also spent time at ACC working on the wheel with one of Caron’s ceramics classes.

Why Art?

Beyond the obvious – enrichment and/or expression – the answers to the question “Why art?” are partly related to the broader cognitive implications of the concepts Ann incorporates in her four-part art curriculum. They generalize to other things we teach at the Center. Spatial awareness in drawing, for example, can benefit students in travel on the micro and macro levels. Tactile literacy mirrors, and perhaps enhances, the process of first learning to decipher the Braille code with one’s fingertips. And at next week’s reception for the Shared Vision exhibit, we’ll be incorporating the principles of structured discovery learning into our tactile interpretation and experience of the pieces on display.

Oh yeah, there’s that other thing – the one about those of us at the CCB and in the NFB knowing that being blind doesn’t have to mean being forever cut off from the visual arts.

The paintings and the thermoform pieces will be a part of the Shared Visions show, which opens with a reception next Thursday, November 10. The show will include works from two previous CCB art classes, as well as fall Ceramics and drawing classes taught by Caron and Abels, respectively.

Shared Visions Collaborative Artworks

November 10 – 18
Reception Thursday, November 10, 5-8 p.m.
The Colorado Gallery of the Arts

Gallery Location & Hours

• The gallery is located at our main campus, first floor of the ACC Annex building, A1300
• Monday – Friday: Noon – 5:00 p.m. (open Tuesdays until 7:00 p.m.)
• CLOSED ON WEEKENDS
• Free parking is available in lots A, B and C during Colorado Gallery of the Arts operating hours
• For general information, or to make advance arrangements for access accommodations, please call the Gallery at 303.797.5649 at least three business days in advance
MAP AND DIRECTIONS to the Colorado Gallery of the Arts

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Events General Colorado Center Information Independence Training Program Senior Programs

Tactile Art Exhibits Coming to @ArapahoeCC & UCAR @ArtACunningham

ACC and CCB staff and students around the Mandala

Tactile art and art shows are in the works this fall, with collaboration and coordination from the Colorado Center for the Blind’s Ann Cunningham as the common medium.

First, Arapahoe Community College’s now-annual “Shared Visions” tactile art show will open with a reception on November 10 at the Colorado Gallery of the Arts from 5 to 8 p.m. The show , which will be open to the public until November 18, will feature tactile and sensory art from ACC Painting and Ceramics students, as well as works from CCB students and staff in several media. CCB’s Ann Cunningham teaches classes each week to Independence Training Students and to Seniors.

It’s the third year the show has been held at ACC, starting with Nathan Abels’ painting classes in 2014, and last year adding ceramics classes taught by Katie Caron, The collaborations are not only between the teaching artists, but also students. Shared class meetings at both CCB and ACC’s ceramics studio are a key component. This year, three classes of CCB art students will contribute works in both hand-built and wheel-thrown ceramics, as well as thermaform representations of haiku poems.

Open now at Boulders University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR, but commonly referred to as NCAR for one of it’s best-known projects), is another tactile art show as part of UCAR’s Community Art Program . Featuring the work of Colorado stone sculptor Ann Cunningham, along with ACC’s Nathan Abels and ACC students. The UCAR show, under discussion for nearly two years, features Cunningham’s bas reliefs in stone as well as three-dimensional sculptures, and includes haiku representations from both painting and ceramics students at ACC.

The exhibit space is in the expansive cafeteria within the laboratory building and is open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on weekdays and from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on weekends and holidays. Cunningham and CCB students will be present on Saturday, November 5 for UCAR’s Super Science Saturday and again on November 12 for the show’s reception.

Cunningham has been teaching art to students at the Colorado Center for the Blind since the 1990s. All students take part in a 4-week class involving learnign to experience and to make art. Ann’s pieces in the UCAR gallery will include a fairy tale, a murder of crows, and a relief of a bird skeleton, among other pieces.

Nathan Abels is a painter and photographer featured in Denver galleries.

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General Colorado Center Information Independence Training Program

Peter’s Alabaster Horse

Tactile art classes, taught by sculptor Ann Cunningham, have been a unique part of training at the Colorado Center for the Blind since the 1990s. Students might work in stone, clay, make tactile drawings with Ann’s Sensational Drawing Board, or go wherever their creative sense pulls them.

Just before his graduation from the Center and return to New York, Peter talked about his experience in Ann’s art class at the Center and what it meant to him.

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General Colorado Center Information Independence Training Program

Shelby: Don’t hide Your Lamp Under a Duck’s Nest

a smiling young woman displays her brightly colored ceramic sculpture with a ray of light emerging from one duck's bill

Monday afternoons our art class meets with our long-time teacher and friend Ann Cunningham to make tactile are pieces from stone, clay, paper or whatever creative fancy strives to take flight.

Shelby will graduate next month, and she’s been a fixture in art class since last fall. Here she is `with her latest art project, titled “Beacon”. She started out to make the two maroon ducks sitting on their lime green nest, but along the way got the idea of a kind of lamp, its light shining from one of their mouths. So after she fired and lazed the piece, she went out to the hardware store to get the wiring and put it all together. Creativity, we may observe, is a process.

And so, it is a beacon!

Be sure to visit Ann’s Sensational Books Blog for lots of cool videos and articles about tactile art!