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Advocate Spotlight: Robyn Rennie

By: Robyn Rennie

Robyn is sitting on a leather chair reading the Braille description of a tactile sculpture she was commissioned to make by Oro-Medonte Township. The sculpture is on the table and features tactile flowers: Trilliums, Marsh Marigolds, and a Lady’s Slipper.I’m a fine artist with vision loss that has impacted how I experience both the world and art. Over the past 18 years, I’ve discovered how inaccessible it is to create my own art. Even enjoying the work of other artists became inaccessible to me.

“Seeing Beyond” is a solo visual art show about experiencing visual art from the perspective of an artist with low vision. It features 27 paintings that offer a glimpse into how I experience my world as a person with low vision. 

Each painting will be accompanied by accessible signage, a life-size tactile replica, and cane-detectable floor markings, which lead to accessible headsets that describe the art and my creative process.The show will take place at the Orillia Museum of Art and History (OMAH) from January 20 to April 13, 2024. 

This project is generously supported by the Canadian Council for the Arts, who are dedicated to funding and advocacy for historically underserved and marginalized communities. Their commitment to making art accessible to everyone thrills me because I want to share my work with everyone, not just sighted viewers. While this art show is local to Ontario, the open-source technology we developed lends itself to future National use. A gallery in Alberta has already proposed a show for Blind/low vision and neuro-divergent patrons. A blue and green abstract painting hangs on the wall. Beside it on the wall is a device with a large green button and the word "Start" above it. There is an arrow pointing down to a knob. There is a set of headphones resting on top of this device.

Right now, I’m the only artist creating art with tactile replicas and audio devices. Other artists want to bring this into their own practice, and museums want to share this experience with their patrons. I’m excited to be creating art and making ground-breaking accessibility advances!

To access the plans/software for 3D printing of audio devices, contact Robyn at robyn@outnumbered.ca. To learn more about accessible art galleries, check out thisAccessibility Toolkit: a guide to making art spaces accessible.