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Joys of visual art come to blind children

By YE ZIZHEN| chinadaily.com.cn| Updated: May 26, 2021 L M S

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One of the paintings created by visually-impaired children at the Zhejiang School of the Blind in Hangzhou. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

In Helen Keller's essay Three Days to See, the famous advocate for the blind and deaf wrote that "darkness would make him more appreciative of sight; silence would teach him the joys of sound."

How do the blind feel about color and painting? To answer this question, Hu Jun started the Art Without Barriers project. Starting in 2016, he would go to the Zhejiang School of the Blind in Hangzhou to give art lessons to the children there.

Born in 1967, Hu Jun is a professor of art instruction at Hangzhou Normal University in Zhejiang province.

"I prefer to refer to the project as an academic experiment," Hu said. "It's kind of a pity that we spend most of our time giving art lessons to normal children and ignore those with visual disabilities. However, our research shows that blind children do have the ability to understand and create visual images."

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Hu Jun and students draw together at Zhejiang School of the Blind in Hangzhou. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

In the project, blind children can try out woodblock painting. The goal is to give them confidence and help them integrate into society, Hu said.

It is also a voluntary team effort, Hu and his students and colleagues are all part of the team. Customized drawing techniques and textbooks are designed for blind children.

"They do have a great sense of color through touch. And in their consciousness, a bird singing is white, a cat fighting is black. When they can create paintings and express their feelings, they will not feel they are disadvantaged," Hu said. "Also, when it comes to education, they should have an equal right to learn art."

Children's works painted during the classes are on display in museums and galleries in Zhejiang, Shanghai and overseas. Six pieces were auctioned and 17 were acquired by personal collectors.

"Being special can be a treasure rather than a regret as long as creativity lasts," Hu said.

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A visually-impaired student touches and feels the plant before drawing. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

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