On an average Thursday in Miller Annex, the sounds of art students giving a printmaking demo are illuminated.
The “pop!” from the corner of a piece of paper, stuck with paint, being freed from a worktable.
The roaring of a hairdryer in the distance being moved up and down as it blows.
The squeee sound of wet paint being scraped back and forth.
Junior Bradley Galimore grips the squeegee as it spreads the paint over the screen—on it’s way to producing the image he’s created.
He’s taken inspiration from Rihanna’s latest album’s artwork, which features poems in braille.
“The poem is called ‘If They Let Us’ and there’s a line… ‘I live loudly in my mind so many hours of the day.’ I wanted to translate that into a visual piece,” said Galimore, junior fine arts major.
Galimore recently began exploring the use of braille in his artwork, which took on a new meaning when he started discussing it with Assistant Professor of Art Matthew Forrest. Forrest has spent the last year creating a partnership with the Georgia Academy for the Blind in conjunction with a grant from the Office of ENGAGE.
For Forrest, it was a perfect match. His research focuses on developing tactile-based printing for students with low vision and other vision impairments.
“As a print maker, I developed inks and other things that would interact with those types of teaching situations. Reaching out to them was a great accident,” said Forrest. “When I moved down to Georgia, I didn’t realize that Macon held the Academy for the Blind here in central Georgia.”
In the past year, Georgia College students have done tactile coloring book workshops. They’ve hosted screen printing demos that Academy students can then watercolor, and they have also worked to garner Academy students more exposure for their artwork.
“I get a lot from it just from the experience of helping our students reach out to our community partners and understanding how these experiences can build up for their whole college experience at Georgia College,” said Forrest. “This is what it means to be a liberal arts college— to reach out to your community and to be engaged within those environments.”
Forrest says the collaboration has involved the whole art department, allowing him to offer the Academy a multitude of expertise they might otherwise not have access to. He also says students benefit by understanding how to give back—and the affects of service to a community.
“The coursework that I give students, especially my summer class Community Outreach and Development, is how they can bridge the gap between a community activity and using art within that activity,” said Forrest. “Those things are the most important aspects they can pull out of any coursework—gaining real world experience and understanding what they do in the class room applies to what they can do with the public and how quick and easy it can be to start a mentoring program or any type of program like that on their own.”
Junior studio art major Emily Jovert, who is also a member of the community service sorority Gamma Sigma Sigma, has taken this opportunity to give back while giving others more access to art.
“Ever since I was a little kid, I always wanted to be an art teacher. I want to help people learn about art and make it, because it’s something that I’ve always loved,” said Jovert. “I love being able to help kids with special needs and doing art. No matter what your level of disability—there’s always something for everybody to do.”
Galimore, whose goal is to become a working artist, says this collaboration has allowed him to discover new avenues in his own art.
“With these projects, it’s not only a chance for me to kind of learn how to express myself in a different way, it’s me also working with other people and seeing how they actually interpret information and express it.”
Forrest says the future of the partnership will continue giving opportunities for GC students like Jovert and Galimore to engage with Academy students. It will also focus on partnering with the Macon Arts Alliance to create pop up galleries to eventually help Academy students display and sell their art.
“I’m always blown away by how dedicated and at the growth of these young artists, especially when they’re given basic parameters and they run with it,” said Forrest. “They make it 10 times better than I could ever have anticipated.”
Galimore says experiences like this allow him to be part of the larger community— and is a hallmark of the Georgia College experience.
“All of my friends at different schools talk about different opportunities, but things like this— I’ve only ever seen at Georgia College,” said Galimore. “It’s outreach but at the same time it’s outreach that pushes you forward. You’re doing leadership, but you’re doing leadership in a way where you’re directly affecting the community that you work in.”