Carnegie Mellon University

The Art of Touch: Lending a Hand to the Sighted Majority

CAS Speaker Series

October 23, 5:30pm
Baker Hall A36

As a blind person, Prof. Georgina Kleege enjoys the incredible privilege of touch access to works of art in museums around the world. In recent work, she has undertaken to describe the experience of touching art to people who do not enjoy this privilege, namely sighted people. In this talk, she will showcase some collaborative projects meant to demystify and systematize her tactile and haptic encounters with art, both to suggest ways that museums can improve the services they offer to blind and visually impaired people, as well as to open up these experiences to people, both blind and nonblind, who are eager to get their hands on art.


Georgina Kleege is a writer and Professor Emerita of English at the University of California, Berkeley, where she taught both creative writing classes and courses on representations of disability in literature, and disability memoir. Her collection of personal essays, Sight Unseen (1999) is a classic in the field of disability studies, and includes an autobiographical account of Kleege’s own blindness as well as cultural critiques of depictions of blindness in literature, film, and language. Her Blind Rage: Letters to Helen Keller (2006) transcends the boundaries between fiction and nonfiction to re-imagine the life and legacy of this celebrated disability icon. Kleege’s latest book, More Than Meets the Eye: What Blindness Brings to Art (2018) is concerned with blindness and visual art: how blindness is represented in art, how blindness affects the lives of visual artists, how museums can make visual art accessible to people who are blind and visually impaired. She has lectured and served as consultant to art institutions around the world including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Tate Modern in London.


Whitney Laemmli, Department of History, Carnegie Mellon University

This talk is brought to campus by the Borderlines “Body Doubles” project.