September 4, 2018

picture of artwork from the exhibit

“What does beauty mean to you?” This is the question our students asked members of the League for the Blind and Disabled, Inc. The resulting stories were turned into a photography art exhibit that encourages viewers to experience beauty with all of their senses. Artwork you can see, hear, smell, taste, and touch — a fully accessible gallery experience.
This project was facilitated through the USF Service Learning Fellowship and Public Relations, Photography, and Music Technology faculty and students. After a successful exhibit at the university last spring, the exhibit will be displayed at ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, Michigan from September 19 – October 7th in Studio 2D2 (The Harris Building).
“We are thrilled and honored for Sensing Beauty to be accepted into ArtPrize this year,” shared Cara Wade, Associate Professor of Studio Art and Photography. “Approximately 500,000 people will be in attendance over the three week run; that’s a lot of people experiencing our multi-sensory art event. This year, over 1,200 works created by 1,400 artists from 41 states and 40 countries will be exhibited in over 150 venues. Our venue, The Harris Building is two blocks from the center of ArtPrize and will be hosting 50 artists from around the world.”
The gallery includes a 3-D printed photograph from 3DPhotoWorks in New York. 3DPhotoWorks delivers tactile find art printing to the blind and sight impaired.
Following the exhibit at ArtPrize, “Sensing Beauty” will return to the Fort Wayne community on the University of Saint Francis campus. Beginning October 8th, the exhibit can be found at the Lee & Jim Vann Library. Along with student work, the gallery will also feature photographic pieces from local professional photographers Karen Thompson, Jeffrey Crane, Theresa Thompson and Cara Lee Wade.

A True Collaborative Experience

This project showcases the unique experience of the collaboration opportunities open to all students across the School of Creative Arts – with all three SOCA departments working together. Kristin Miller, Assistant Professor of Public Relations, was able to connect with many students outside her department.
“Personally, I think it was great to watch the communication, photography, and music technology students work together. They really got to see the hard work of the other students’ disciplines, and I think they came to respect each other so much more as a result of this project.”
Photography and Public Relations students worked together to create interview questions and facilitate interviews with the clients from The League to discern what beauty means to someone without sight. The Photography students then conceptualized and created imagery based on these interviews as well as synthesizing their own ideas of what beauty means.
Descriptions of the pieces were written by communication students, to allow the gallery to be experienced without sight. The Communication students also publicized and hosted the gallery opening in April.
The Music Technology department was able to partner with Listening Technologies to supply assistive listening devices for the exhibit. Music Technology students recorded and developed all the music and sound design which can be heard at each piece.
Miller continued to discuss how this project went a step further than collaboration alone.
“Service-learning allowed the students to see the value of their skills – and the value of a Franciscan education,” she said. “They experienced how their classroom learning, put into action, could improve lives. More than one of my students said to me that this project changed what they wanted to do with their degree, that now they wanted to start a career that helped others.”