Art is something that is universal and can be appreciated by anyone, regardless of their background. However, art can have restrictions for some people, specifically referring to people with disabilities. People who are blind cannot appreciate all the art that is made, so sculptor Martin Eichinger thought of a creation that could be appreciated by not only people without disabilities, but also people who are blind and other people with disabilities. This sculpture, "Aqueous," a multisensory sculpture, was created by Eichinger and contains a poem written by a former WWII nurse by the name of Isabel Demmon. It came to life in 1981 at the school of Lansing’s Cumberland elementary school for disabled children, most of whom are blind.
Martin Eichinger, an architect, built this sculpture with the intent to help the children with disabilities and include them, but also to educate people about disability and to help bring everyone together as a community. Disability art refers to sculpture or any kind of creative work that explores disability in some context. It is created by people with or without disabilities, with the purpose in mind to reach out to the audience and include everyone in the community. The major importance of this is the fact that disability art provides much needed access to those with disabilities, such as wheelchair ramps and braille, like the "Aqueous" sculpture. This is important because it can expose the marginalization and social mistreatment of disabled people and teach us how to include them.
An important aspect behind this sculpture is how it helps form a base of support for the emergence of disability culture, which means that we as people disabled and non-disabled are more alike than we think and we can take so much away from that. The superintendent of the school, Nancy Bryant, felt this sculpture was necessary so that all her students could have equal opportunity to explore their imagination and themselves. After talking to a graduate from her school, who described climbing a fallen tree as a place for endless imagination, she knew that every child should get that same opportunity to explore for themselves. The sculpture itself and the poem created by Isabel Demmon, a Fitchburg native, for this art piece helps us see the movement towards self-determination and the reshaping of the public's view of disability.
The "Aqueous" sculpture is built to mimic a wave, and is accessible by everyone, including people who use wheelchairs, to get into to get a tactile experience. The "Aqueous" sculpture incorporates braille and many different textures for sensory purposes for the visually impaired. Throughout the sculpture there is braille in forms of poems for the children to read. Throughout the sculpture there is braille in forms of poems for the children to read. Braille, which is used for communicating with disabled people, usually the visually impaired, is a set of tactile symbols. Each symbol is based on a mixture of three rows and two columns. Many of the symbols have many meanings, which is determined by the context of the surrounding symbols.
Martin Eichinger’s incorporation of braille and other textures in this sculpture and many other disability art pieces is important for many reasons. Worldwide, there are over 285 million people that are visually impaired, 39 million being blind and another 246 million having low-vision impairments. Blindness is a disability that exists more often than one might think, and it affects many people on a global level. 10% of those who are blind can read braille, so with incorporation of braille into art and other everyday objects, we can help increase that statistic. This is important because people who are blind aren't getting the education they need, or the accommodations necessary to thrive. As important as it is for any child to learn how to read, children who are blind should be no different, which is why learning braille is important.
With sculptures like this one, not only is it helping people with disabilities, but it also enlightens many people who are not disabled and allows them to be fully immersed in the complexity of it all. It allows us to learn more about the disabilities themselves, and see that these people are not more different than anyone else. An another example of an exposure to disabilities is a festival called the "Blind Creations" conference in England; at this conference you can find many exhibits that pertain to disability. Some of these include a sculpture carved from concreteand an exhibit that is a sculpture that says “seeing red” spelled out in braille. Both of these, which are similar to the "Aqueous" sculpture, help the disabled experience art and also also educate everyone about disabilities and the different ways we can communicate through art. Some other art pieces include the Koru Gate, Go, Vision and Braille art. Some other art pieces created for those with blindness and vision disabilities include the Koru Gate, Go, Vision and Braille art. They all incorporate tactile art to be enjoyed by everyone. Disability art is made to include everyone and make every person who experiences it feel like they're accepted.
These artifacts, which are from a scrapbook about Martin Eichinger, his sculpture, and Isabel Demmonn's poem, bring forth their contribution in helping those with the disability of blindness and vision impairment. The main intention and vision for the "Aqueous" sculpture was to make accessible art for everyone and help give those who don't normally have the opportunity to explore their imagination through art to do so. It also allows for a community to come together and explore each other's differences and learn more to bring everyone closer together. Isabel Demmon's service to the country and the general public by being a nurse opened up the door for her to reach out to those with disabilities and help them without the use of formal medicine long after becoming a nurse. Her concept of the sculpture and her work led to inclusiveness of a community and created an opportunity of learning and love for the children and adults associated with the project and the disabled community itself as a whole, which was a very big step forward for those excluded due to disability.