Clairvoyance II: Art of the Visually Impaired

Barbara Romain
Aileen Cinquemani
Constance Avery


The Strand Center for the Arts is proud to announce the new exhibit opening in May, “Clairvoyance II: Art of the Visually Impaired.” This exhibit features artwork from the Northeastern Association of the Blind at Albany Blind Artist Society (NABA BAS) and client artwork from the North Country Association of the Visually Impaired, Inc. (NCAVI). The exhibit will be on view May 1st to 29th, 2015 at the Strand Center for the Arts, located at 23 Brinkerhoff Street, Plattsburgh. The opening reception will be held May 1st from 5:00 to 8:00 pm, is free to the public, and is part of the First Weekends in Plattsburgh Art Walk.

The Strand Center for the Arts Gallery Coordinator, Christina Elliott, stated “The primary motive behind the exhibit “Clairvoyance II” is to educate the public about artists with disabilities, particularly how those with visual impairments interact with and produce art.” This exhibit was originally curated by the Strand Center in July of 2014, but on a smaller scale. Not only did the exhibit educate the public, but created more accessibility to those with disabilities, as Braille catalogs and posters were available. “This year we will have Braille catalogs, as well as a new feature, audio tours that viewers can download to their smart phones.” said Elliott.

The Northeastern Association of the Blind at Albany Blind Artist Society (NABA BAS) is a free, web based community of artists with varying degrees of visual impairment. The NABA BAS mission is to sustain the needs of artists suffering from visual loss. Artist works will include images from NABA BAS members Aileen Cinquemani, Barbara Romain, Arlissa Vaughn, Constance Avery, Dick Morrill, Emilia Beer, Jonathan Beer, Scott Carruthers, and Marissa Rivera. Since 1908, NABA, a non-profit organization, has been fulfilling its mission to provide services and support to help blind and visually impaired people of all ages lead independent lives. NABA’s vision rehabilitation therapists work in-home and on-site with individuals to teach adaptive skills and strategies that enable independent living. Located at NABA’s facility at 301 Washington Avenue in Albany, the Dr. Harry M. Judge Vision Rehabilitation Center provides examinations by a low vision specialist for the prescription of magnifiers, special glasses and adaptive devices. Services are at no charge to the legally blind. For more information about NABA, go to www.naba-vision.org

Established in 1929, Central Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CABVI) is a not-for-profit agency that serves people who are blind or visually impaired, from newborns to the elderly, generally free of charge. The staff offers comprehensive vision rehabilitation, employment, and technology services personally tailored to meet an individual’s needs. CABVI comprehensive vision rehabilitation programs provides for individuals who are blind or visually impaired in an eight county area of upstate New York.

The North Country Association for the Visually Impaired, Inc. (NCAVI) is a private not-for-profit organization in Plattsburgh, NY dedicated to assisting people who are blind, legally blind, or visually impaired with attaining or maintaining personal independence.

NCAVI Executive Director Amy Kretser said the pilot program launched in 2014 created an opportunity for people who are blind or visually impaired to experience art and take advantage of what is available at the Strand Center for the Arts. She said, “People who took the classes last year were really enthusiastic about the program. Some of them were skeptical at first, which is to be expected,” Kretser explained, “but by the end of the second class several participants actually became inspired to take their artistic talents in new directions. We are excited to see what the 2015 classes produce.”

Jodi Lattrell-Burns, Executive Administrator at NCAVI, worked closely with the Strand Center for the Arts to develop a new series of art workshops for 2015 that would offer the use of different mediums including clay and materials used in 2D artwork.

“Participants in the classes have varied degrees of vision so each person’s experience and artwork was uniquely beautiful,” said Lattrell-Burns. She explained that some participants had limited or no visual acuity, while others had limited visual fields, seeing either through use of their peripheral vision or through a pinhole with no peripheral vision at all.

Throughout March and April two clay-based workshops with Jackie Sabourin and Jerry Sequin were offered in the Strand Center’s Jackie Sabourin Clay Studio, and one 2D-based mixed media workshop with Stephanie Crawford. Lattrell-Burns said, “The ceramics class was a perfect fit for students because so much of the process is done by feel. It was interesting to learn that some of the participants with the least amount of vision truly excelled at throwing pots.”

Artwork that was produced in these classes will be featured in the exhibit as well as artwork done by participants produced prior to their vision loss. Kretser said, “Some of the participants had been artists for years before experiencing changes in their vision. It is incredibly traumatic for people to lose their sight and understandably difficult for artists to shift gears artistically during that process.” Kretser said the classes offered by NCAVI and the Strand Center for the Arts offer opportunities for people to experiment with art in new ways.

“Clairvoyance II: Art of the Visually Impaired,” featuring artwork from the Northeastern Association of the Blind at Albany Blind Artist Society (NABA BAS) and client artwork from the North Country Association of the Visually Impaired, Inc. (NCAVI) opens in May. The exhibit will be on view May 1st to 29th, 2015 at the Strand Center Main Gallery, located at 23 Brinkerhoff Street, Plattsburgh. The opening reception will be held May 1st from 5:00 to 8:00 pm and is free to the public.

The Strand Center for the Arts is open Tuesday through Friday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm and Saturdays from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. For more information on this or upcoming Strand Center events, please visit www.plattsburgharts.org, call 518-563-1604, or stop into our Main Offices at 23 Brinkerhoff Street in Plattsburgh, NY.

“Clairvoyance II” is part of the First Weekends Art Walk. Alaina Pinto stopped by the gallery to talk about the Art Walk and the artwork made the local news!