What happens when you pair an author and an artist? Brilliance.
The Braille Project, brainchild of Faye Harnest and Devon E. Sioui, highlights the beauty of braille and the art of communication. Faye was writing poetry with braille and using it as art. Devon’s artistic technique and textures caught her attention and before they knew it, they were collaborating.
Faye: It’s most important that our works are fun to experience. I love concrete poetry—poetry that messes around with letters and words and makes you pay attention to every shape and pattern… We don’t think of our project as political—it’s a creative endeavor—but we would like it if The Braille Project made a few people excited about learning braille. By showing how cool braille is—and, of course, it is cool; it is reading and writing, two of the most important and enjoyable things in life.
Together, they developed a series called, PLEASE DO TOUCH! It’s a series of 40 paintings that play with wild coloured paints and expressive braille poetry inspired by those who have their own connection to braille.
Devon: We wanted the audience to explore the paintings with their hands, interacting with them in ways you normally wouldn’t. Touching paintings at a gallery is usually frowned upon, so actually being encouraged to touch them is really fun.
Faye: Yes! In the same way that we’re interested in stripping away some of the rules of how we’re supposed to interact with language, we want to strip away some of the rules about how we’re supposed to interact with paintings…The narratives told by the braille poems are cohesive in that they have a very “Let’s go! Let’s run away together!” attitude that encourages everyone to come along on this adventure.
The duo is embarking on a new adventure with a documentary in the works and hopefully, a cross-Canada tour of PLEASE DO TOUCH!
Devon: We are shooting a documentary of the Project with Director Jay Lidstone, and we’re also beginning to work on large sculptures and installations incorporating braille and the theme of touch.
Faye: We’re planning to exhibit all of the paintings in the Please Do Touch series together, in Toronto, and afterwards, we would love for some pieces to travel throughout Canada, so that as many people can touch them as possible. How great would it be to have a travelling exhibit—oh! a painting mobile, like a book mobile, but with paintings, driving up your street! Alas, that’s only a dream.
For more info: thebrailleproject.com
Photos by Adam Harnest
Posted by Samira Zia Rehman