NAIROBI – A Kenyan artist has made a series of interactive canvasses with messages in Brail in a bid to make the visual arts accessible to those who are visually impaired.
Tina Benawra has a passion for sharing the shapes and images in her mind with the world – the result of a condition called pareidolia which is a psychological phenomenon whereby an individual sees an image in shapes or patterns that in reality do not exist – a passion she now aims to share with individuals who cannot see.
“These are the code words they have to go through,” Benawra explained to EFE.
“The whole thing is textured for them to play around with, feel different emotions, and also to get a feel for the direct message rather than descriptions of it,” the artist added.
For Benawra, putting the blind viewer in a position of power when it comes to interpreting her pieces is essential.
The result is a series of pieces that defy contemporary expectations of how we should interact with art, creating a playful and fun experience for both the visually impaired and non-blind that actively explores on the idea of synesthesia by, for example, writing the color blue in brail next to an azure blob that to the touch feels cold.
“People have a natural resistance to touch art, afraid they might break something,” one audience member of the art show told EFE.
“This is a different experience,” he added.
Benawra was born and bred a humble Nairobi neighborhood where she has her art studio.
The artist studied film in the United Kingdom and later went to Switzerland where she first saw the paintings of Europe’s surrealist masters, an experience which shaped her life from then on.