1 North Square, Cambridge, ON
Transformed Through Touch is a collaborative project with the deaf/blind community and with artists Gareth Lichty, Gary Kirkham, and Meghan Sims. Inspired by a series of creative experiences at the W. Ross Macdonald School for the Blind and the Canadian Deafblind Association Ontario Chapter, this project will culminate in an immersive, multisensory public art installation at our Queen’s Square Gallery.
The installation will feature multi-sensory components that enhance and heighten kinetic, sonic, tactile, and visual stimulation. Free from the normal ‘Look! Don’t touch!’ stipulations typical of art gallery and museum experiences, it will encourage visitors to counter-intuitively experience 'What it feels like’.
This project was made possible through the Ontario Arts Council Artists in Communities and Schools Projects Grant and the Region of Waterloo Arts Fund.
Thank you to Grand River Sign Design for your in-kind contribution to this exhibition.
Gary Kirkham is an artist and playwright. His art installations include Transformed Through Touch (Cambridge Art Galleries), Libby Hague's Experiment for a Closing (Idea Exchange), Blue Memos (Numus/InterArts Matrix Theatre David Earle). He has created video installations for CAFKA, UnSilent Night, The MT Space, Summerworks, Nightshift, Randolph Academy (Belgium), and Greenlight Arts. Gary is an award-winning playwright, his plays include Falling: A Wake, Queen Milli of Galt, Pearl Gidley, Rage Against Violence (with Dwight Storring), and Pocket Rocket (with Lea Daniel). He in an artistic associate with the MT Space and has worked in collaboration with the company on several shows including Amal, Body 13, Seasons of Immigration, and the critically acclaimed The Last 15 Seconds. He has written several adaptations including Radio Leacock, Easter (by August Strindberg), and Bottom and the Mechanicals. His plays have been produced by over 80 theatre companies across Canada and internationally. His scripts have be translated in French, Italian, and Arabic. Gary was the Playwright in Residence e at the Blyth Fesitval in 2008.
Gareth Lichty studied Fine Arts at York University in Toronto and Sculpture at Leeds University in England. He has exhibited internationally and nationally with exhibitions in Europe, New Zealand and Canada. Lichty has been a Director and the Chair of Programming for CAFKA (Contemporary Art Forum, Kitchener and Area) since 2005. He has received grants from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council. Lichty lives and works in Kitchener, Ontario and is represented by Peak Gallery, Toronto.
Meghan Sims was born in Kitchener Ontario in 1980 with a rare visual condition called Achromatopsia. Being an achromat, Sims carries a unique visual perception of the world around her. It is this perception that has shaped and become characteristic of her artistic style.
The artist is fully colourblind, near sighted and extremely sensitive to light; causing day blindness. These factors have inspired a lifelong curiosity with the idea of perception, light and shadow, both with and without the emotional values of colour.
In an effort to grasp the qualities of light, Sims sought private instruction in the world of photography. A fast bond was made and after two years of study, photography became an intrinsic piece of the artist’s process. Manipulating tonal values of light allowed for demonstration and experimentation of different perceptions. Sims drew great inspiration and visual kinship from the work of Hungarian Photographer Brassai.
After years of self-taught experimentation, Sims returned to school where she was able to refine her artistic voice and diversify her skills. Here, she strengthened her oil and acrylic paint techniques and began a new investigation into the properties of light; through glass blowing. Sims wishes to continue to polishing her glass design skills and evolve the role light plays in her work.
Through her work, Sims hopes to communicate her visual perception with the world around her. Ideally, the artist strives to open a dialogue where education and communication around differences in perception are contemplated; especially where the idea of disability is concerned. Sims believes that through connection, healing and growth can take place; making art a universal communicator for all to see.
List of Works
Cerenna-Tee Racey designed 7 rooms based on her lived experiences that are meant to evoke certain feelings for those who enter them. With the help of the artists, her concepts became installations.
- Classroom Chaos Room - Feelings of chaos and uncertainty.
- White Noise Room - General discomfort due to the high pitched noises. Feelings of frustration and discomfort.
- Advocacy Room – Feelings of uncertainty. This room also houses a cubby which acts as a safe space you are welcome to enter. The world is loud, but here it is quiet.
- Social Settings Room - Feelings of pressure and being lost.
- Cafeteria Chaos Room – Unsettling and uncomfortable. Sensory overload.
- Loneliness Room - Separation from the rest of the world. Isolation and doubt.
- Piano Room –Calm and happy. Take your time, feel the vibrations by plucking the strings and placing your hand on the flat wooden support. Play for your own enjoyment.
The objects displayed are made by 7 students from the W. Ross Macdonald School for the Blind during creative experiences with Gary Kirkham, Gareth Lichty, and Meghan Sims.
- Patricson’s blue tape replicating her mapping adventure.
- Wendy’s rope sculpture with rope wrap and brushed ends.
- Meg’s Lego blocks scaled up and printed as wallpaper for the Piano Room.
- Hand sculptures of Cerenna’s classmates and their teachers.
- Rope pulling was a favourite of Gabrielle’s and is at the White Noise room entrances.
- The large blue barrel and models were used to teach scale, along with a 1:10 scale maquette of the Queen’s Square Gallery space (not included in the exhibition).
- Alena’s weaving.
- Braille typewriter for comments.
My name is Cerenna-Tee Racey. I am a 10th grade student at W. Ross Macdonald School for the Blind. Due to major hearing loss over the last few years, I am now deafblind. I was asked by the Cambridge Art Galleries Idea Exchange to portray what
my world is like on a daily basis. A large part of my world and enjoyment every day comes from music, so I have created music and sounds to allow you a glimpse into my “hearing” world. Everyday social settings are very hard for me to partake
in and I hope that through this installation you can have a better understanding of how diffcult they are to navigate and have a true understanding of what I go through every day. The “secret hideout”and“keyless piano” represent how I am
apart from society and different from the people around me and how I work to fit into the hearing/seeing world around me. I hope you gain a better understanding of deafblindness through this installation and that my creativity also brings you
great enjoyment! I am truly thankful for the opportunity to take part in this project!
- Cerenna-Tee Racey, Project Lead
Transformed Through Touch