Media Minute – Fine Arts

Campus Activities Media Minute Fine Arts Art Community

An adolescent stands in an art gallery with fiber art sculptures, weavings, and ceramics.

“What does art mean to you?”

“Art Class helps me bring out who I really am inside. Gives me space to be who I am,” shares Jonathan. Nevaeh says, “I like doing art for entertainment. Art makes me feel calm.” Azriel adds, “Art class makes me happy. It feels good to make art. I like art because it makes me feel relaxed. It feels good to think about my art.”

All departments across the TSBVI campus – Comprehensive Instructional and Residential, Short Term Programs, Curriculum, and Outreach – recognize the importance of arts education for our students. This Media Minute post features student works through the years done with clay, paint, fabric, yarn, wood, ink, cardboard, braille paper, stickers, and balloons to name a few of the artistic mediums.

TSBVI student artwork is represented in the local Austin art scene as students have many experiences for their art to be exhibited. Comprehensive Programs students along with Almost Real Things Gallery and professional artists have collaborated two years in a row for “Touch the Art,” a sensory group exhibition! Save the date for the TSBVI opening on Thursday April 25, 2024 from 6-9 p.m. The public opening is Saturday, April 27, 2024 from 6-10 p.m. and the exhibit runs until Sunday, May 19th, 2024. KVUE covered the 2023 art show as did CBS Austin. Sage Studio is currently exhibiting TSBVI recent graduate Ethan W’s art and they formerly exhibited student David S’s art. TSBVI also participates in the annual Figúralo Youth Exhibit at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center (MACC). Current sculptural works from Comprehensive Programs students can be viewed on the Smithsonian Learning Lab while the MACC is closed for renovation.

The Fine Arts building showcases student art for the community, serving as a location on the annual Austin Studio Tour, as well as a venue to display student art for families and caregivers on Family Day. Many original artistic treasures can be found and are sold on a monthly basis by the student artists themselves at the Farmer’s Market and the Fall and Spring Fairs. TSBVI art students have been decorated with awards through the years. We are two-time award winners of the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) National InSights Art Competition, having won first place for the short-stop animation film “The Purr-fect Dream” (close-captioned version and audio-described version) and second place for the video “Special Ed.“ Former student Marianela won the 2020 Start with Hello Student Voices National Award in the Visual Art category for her painting “Two Birds.” This award recognizes students who creatively voice their commitment to inclusiveness and kindness. Marianela’s artwork was also selected as the design on the 2021 White Cane Day T-shirt.

The dormitories are decorated with student art made during the evening in activities facilitated by the creative staff in the Residential Department. Students create art during Residential Hobby Hour, in Art Club, paint pumpkins in the fall, make holiday and Valentine’s cards, and use a pottery wheel. Collaborative student art graces the cover of the Residential campus newsletters. Students also regularly visit local galleries such as Hope Gallery, the Blanton Museum of Art, and the Umlauf Sculpture Garden. TSBVI was selected as a collaborative community partner in the 2022 Contemporary Museum exhibit, “The Whisperers,” an experimental and collaborative interactive exhibition at the Jones Center. This exhibit was conducted in a multi-sensory way by Tarek Atoui, artist and composer, with artist-in-residence Chris Cogburn coordinating with Residential staff and working with TSBVI students.

Short-Term Programs incorporates fine arts into their programming. Students from around the state of Texas attend school year programs focused on the arts such as Elementary Independence Weekend: Fun with Art, Craft, and Fine Motor and the Magical World of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, math). Summer Programs 2024 is offering a three-week General Education High School Credit Course (ages 14-18): Art: Level I. Students who attend for two summers will receive one full credit toward their graduation requirements. Elementary and Secondary Summer Enrichment classes offer many arts activities. Whether it’s creating tactile art during Tactile Graphics Discovery, designing and felting jewelry during a fiber arts lesson, making robot costumes out of cardboard to perform an original play, or whittling wood to make a wand, STP classes are packed with artistic expression.

The Outreach Department has produced many webinars with a fine arts focus. They have also published years of articles on fine arts in the TX SenseAbilities magazine (search “art” on our website).

Students at TSBVI are fully given the freedom to explore the arts. What does art mean to Zach? “Art is subjective to the eyes of the beholder. When I do my art I feel a mixture of emotions like calmness but there is also the anxiety of life. I try to revel in the happiness when I’m doing my art.”

Enjoy these two videos of sewing techniques learned in TSBVI fine arts class and be sure to view the “Touch the Art” exhibit if you’re in the Austin area!