A special exhibit by local photographer Bowman Gray will be on display at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA) from Oct. 18 to Nov. 4 celebrating the stories of five local employees from IFB Solutions, the largest employer of people who are blind or visually impaired in the country. Each person’s portrait will be accompanied by a thermally generated tactile print that enables visitors to both see and touch the work. SECCA donated the time and technology to translate Gray’s photography into a tactile print that brings the image to life without the need for sight.
An opening reception for the exhibition will be held on Thursday, Oct. 18 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at SECCA, which is located at 750 Marguerite Drive in Winston-Salem. The reception is free open to the public.
“I was drawn to the challenge of taking what is a highly visual medium—photography—and making it accessible for people who are blind,” said Gray. “The portraits also capture each person doing what they love outside of work as an expression of independence that breaks many of the stereotypes of what it means to be blind.”
The employees featured in the portraits are Chris Flynt, director of Programs and Services, working on his farm; Charity Hampton, music instructor at Tracy’s Little Red Schoolhouse, singing a favorite Broadway tune; Faith Harding, inside sales for Base Supply Center operations, practicing yoga in her journey to become a certified instructor; Pablo Morales, assistive technology coordinator, demonstrating martial arts; and Dennis Rothfuss, RABU sewing operator, using a magnifying device to complete a woodworking project.
“We are excited to host an exhibit that celebrates inspiring stories of people from our community in such a unique and innovative way,” said Deborah Randolph, curator of education for SECCA. “It’s a wonderful collaboration with IFB and Bowman to use our thermal printing technology and make art accessible to people without sight.”
The dates of the exhibit were chosen by IFB to mark National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) in October. “We are very grateful to SECCA and Bowman for donating their time and talents to make this innovative exhibit a reality during a month when we want to both celebrate the accomplishments of our employees and also raise awareness for the many challenges people who are blind still face in finding jobs,” said David Horton, CEO of IFB Solutions. “Although our national unemployment rate is now below 5 percent, the rate for someone who is blind is an astounding 70 percent. We’ve got to do more to grow job opportunities because there is so much potential for individuals who are blind in the workforce and in the community.”
About IFB Solutions (IFB)
IFB Solutions is a nonprofit corporation founded in 1936 that provides employment, training and services for people who are blind or visually impaired. As the largest employer of people who are blind in the United States, IFB operates manufacturing facilities in Winston-Salem, N.C., Asheville, N.C., and Little Rock, Ark., in addition to more than 40 office supply stores and optical centers across the country. IFB Solutions funds employee training and services as well as community programs through grants and private donations, making possible the Community Low Vision Centers across North Carolina and in Little Rock, Ark., and Tracy’s Little Red Schoolhouse based in Winston-Salem. ifbsolutions.org
The Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem, N.C. The Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA) is a creative leader of the arts in the Southeast, a museum boldly giving artists of the region a platform for visibility while connecting local communities with the international world of contemporary art. Located at 750 Marguerite Drive, the museum is open Tuesday through Sunday. For hours, please visit secca.org. SECCA is an affiliate of the North Carolina Museum of Art, a division of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources. SECCA receives operational funding from The Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County. Additional funding is provided by the James G. Hanes Memorial Fund.
About the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources
The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCDNCR) is the state agency with a vision to be the leader in using the state’s natural and cultural resources to build the social, cultural, educational and economic future of North Carolina. Led by Secretary Susi H. Hamilton, NCDNCR’s mission is to improve the quality of life in our state by creating opportunities to experience excellence in the arts, history, libraries and nature in North Carolina by stimulating learning, inspiring creativity, preserving the state’s history, conserving the state’s natural heritage, encouraging recreation and cultural tourism, and promoting economic development. NCDNCR includes 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, two science museums, three aquariums and Jennette’s Pier, 39 state parks and recreation areas, the N.C. Zoo, the nation’s first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the State Archives, the N.C. Arts Council, State Preservation Office and the Office of State Archaeology, along with the Division of Land and Water Stewardship. For more information, please call (919) 807-7300 or visit ncdcr.gov