As gallery space rotates, exclusive exhibits will feature nationally acclaimed BVI and IDD artists such as John Bramblittwhose art has been sold in over 100 countries around the world later this year.
“It’s about something much bigger than art. It’s the foundation of the origin of everything,” said
Sarah Kephart, program manager of Envision Arts. “Everyone has a story to tell. Whether you are sighted, born blind or injured in an accident, we all want to tell our story. The sighted world has set perceptions and parameters around what the blind community and visually impaired people want to do. and can. Envision pushes those boundaries. We help people realize their potential through self-expression.
The first Envision Arts gallery exhibition was designed to feature portraits of dedicated artists from the Envision Arts program who are blind or visually impaired and/or disabled. Highlighting their stories and successes, the main gallery showcases inspiring works by 18 different BVI artists. The Community Portrait Wall at the Patricia A. Peer Window Gallery features an experiential photo exhibit in which the community can directly engage and participate – providing an opportunity and dedicated space for conversations about accessibility, diversity, equity and inclusion.
Artist At Roshunda Holt piece, “Cascade with weeping willow“, is among the first of the works exhibited. Small shiny ceramic pieces are combined to create a mosaic landscape representing a waterfall flowing into a river on the horizon in front of a large willow tree. While the weeping willow tree symbolizes the shadow over sadness, the cascading water helps purify it to wash it away and bring new life. Its tactile and colorful surface allows people to touch and experience the artwork with multiple senses other than just vision.
“Art can’t be put in a box – that’s what makes it special,” said Holt, who was recognized by the American Printing House for the Blind, Annual Insight Art Exhibition in Louisville, Kentucky. “I was diagnosed at 23 with retinitis pigmentosa, which is a genetic condition, so I knew I was going to lose my sight, but that didn’t stop me from pursuing art. And now I hope to be able to inspire young artists of all levels to never stop creating.”
In addition to showcasing works by artists from Envision Arts BVI, the gallery features a fully accessible environment with a floor navigation strip for white cane users, scannable QR codes with artwork descriptions for screen readers, braille maps and booklet, and large print booklet of all artwork descriptions. The gallery staff are trained as sighted guides who will assist anyone visiting the gallery as needed.
The gallery will also offer an artist-in-residence program designed to connect the BVI community to other artists working within the creative community of Wichita. Program members can showcase their work in the gallery and will work alongside Envision Arts to help build accessibility more prominently in the art world.
“It’s been a dream that Sarah has had for a long time,” said Michael Monteferrante, President and CEO of Envision. “Envision is thrilled to bring to life this one-of-a-kind art gallery and what it stands for: inclusion and accessibility for all.”
All proceeds from artwork and merchandise purchased at the exhibit directly support the artists and help fund the artistic endeavors of the Envision Arts program. You can learn more about the Envision Arts Gallery and Community Engagement Center by visiting www.envisionartsgallery.com or calling (316) 440-1699.
Envision promotes the advocacy and independence of people who are blind or visually impaired. Founded in 1933, Envision is one of the largest employers of people with sight loss in the country. Based at Wichita, Kansas, Envision’s mission is to improve the quality of life and provide inspiration and opportunity for people who are blind or visually impaired through employment, outreach, rehabilitation, education and research. For more information, visit www.envisionus.com.