A Call for Artists for The Chicago Lighthouse Public Art Display!

a mock-up photo of what the lighthouses will look like when installed on The Mag Mile

The Chicago Lighthouse is currently calling for artists with and without disabilities for a very special summer project! Without a doubt, summer time here offers numerous activities for everyone to enjoy. From concerts to festivals, and sporting activities to parades, there is sure to be something that will please individuals of all ages. Going to Navy Pier and Millennium Park are just a few of the things I love about summers in Chicago!

The Chicago Lighthouse will be joining in the summer fun this year with the Lighthouses on The Mag Mile campaign, a new and exciting public art display celebrating the access and inclusion of people with disabilities. This event will coincide with Access Chicago, the premier exposition for people with disabilities, as well as with the city’s busiest tourist season. The Lighthouses on The Mag Mile campaign is being launched to bring awareness of the mission of The Chicago Lighthouse, one of the city’s long-standing and most prominent social service organizations serving people who are blind, visually impaired, disabled and Veterans.

We invite professional and aspiring artists to apply and participate in the Lighthouses on The Mag Mile campaign. Submissions from artists of all cultural backgrounds, as well as from artists with and without disabilities are encouraged. Chosen artists will design a provided fiberglass lighthouse sculpture for The Magnificent Mile that will illustrate what it means to be a beacon of access and inclusion for people with disabilities. Lighthouse sculptures measure 6 feet tall by 30 inches in diameter and will be placed on The Mag Mile, as well as in nearby locations. Each artist or group will receive a stipend of $750.

Your sculpture will help those passing by to:

  • Recognize the role access and inclusion play in the achievements of people with disabilities.
  • Encourage Chicago-area employers and community members to lead the way with opportunities for people with disabilities.
  • Feel the power each individual has to support the lives of people with disabilities.
  • Imagine what is possible for all individuals with disabilities.

After the exhibition, lighthouse sculptures will be auctioned and proceeds will benefit the 39 programs and services at The Chicago Lighthouse.

Applications are due on MONDAY, MARCH 19, 2018. To learn more about this exciting opportunity or to download an application, please visit this website. You may also send an email to callforartists@chicagolighthouse.org, or call Jessica Grant at 312-447-3255 if you have any questions.

The completed application and agreement may be submitted in one of the following ways:

  • Emailing the materials to callforartists@chicagolighthouse.org
  • Mail or hand-deliver to The Chicago Lighthouse Call for Artists, at 1850 W. Roosevelt Rd. Chicago, IL 60608, attention Financial Development Department.

The Chicago Lighthouse is also seeking businesses interested in sponsorship opportunities for this campaign. To learn more, visit this page or contact Angela D’Antonio at 312-447-3246, or angela.dantonio@chicagolighthouse.org. For media inquiries about The Chicago Lighthouse or about the Lighthouses on The Mag Mile Public Art Display, contact Dominic Calabrese at 312-997-3662 or Dominic.calabrese@chicagolighthouse.org.

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Commentary: Accessible and Inclusive Art

Last year, several events were held to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the ADA. Many of these celebrations were centered around making art and museum exhibits accessible to people who are blind or visually impaired. I recently came across an article about the reVISION art exhibit, an event that took place in Indiana for the very first time. Although the exhibition was not part of the ADA celebration, its main purpose is to make art accessible and inclusive to everyone. All visitors – both blind and sighted – are allowed to touch the different art pieces. The inspiration for this exhibit came from Meredith Howell, the mother of a child with severe vision loss.

 

I was honestly skeptical when I learned about this exhibit. Previously, many well-intentioned but unsuccessful attempts have been made to include blind and visually impaired folks in art exhibitions. I have gone to art exhibits that claim to be accessible, only to find that accommodations are minimal at best. While I appreciate and enjoy reading the Braille descriptions near paintings and getting to feel parts of some of the sculptures, this doesn’t always give me the full picture. The reality is that when you have vision loss you need to have a combination of various tactile and verbal features in order to appreciate visual works of art as much as possible. I would have probably enjoyed these so-called accessible exhibits had they included detailed verbal descriptions.

 

The unique aspect about the reVISION exhibit that caught my eye (pun intended) is the way in which everyone could interact with the art pieces. It was created with different materials including yarn, clay, wood, fleece, plaster and tactile paint. In other words, people could enjoy the art by both looking and feeling it. This leads me to wonder who got the most out of the exhibit. Blind and visually impaired participants were able to appreciate the different textures, but sighted visitors got the opportunity to use their sense of touch. Unfortunately this is a sense that those with 20/20 vision take for granted and seldom use to its fullest potential! Better yet, sighted visitors were able to learn about visual impairments by putting on special goggles while they touched the art, so we could say that they got a glimpse into the lives of blind and visually impaired individuals.

 

Kudos to Howell and all participating organizations and artists for their dedication and effort in making this exhibit possible. The reVISION exhibit not only made art accessible to those with vision loss, but it also allowed the general public to better understand blindness and visual impairment. I truly hope that this and similar events will continue for many years to come. Those of us with disabilities are constantly fighting for equal access, and we will only accomplish this by spreading awareness and understanding to the general public. These efforts should be ongoing; it is not necessary for us to wait until the next ADA celebration to commit to accessibility and inclusion.

In case you missed it, check out the article here.