An offbeat collection of art designed to be poked, prodded and more has been delighting visitors to Paragon Arts Gallery in North Portland. Can Touch This co-curator Dominic Amorin is also one of the originators of Public Annex, a local collective of both disabled and non-disabled artists, some of whom contributed to the exhibit. He talks to Eric Bartels about the trials of triumphs inherent in making Portland's cultural landscape more inclusive.
PORTLAND, OR — Paragon Arts Gallery at PCC Cascade presents Can Touch This, a multi-sensory exhibition of visual
work curated by Public Annex. Please join us for an opening reception on Friday, September 21st from 5 - 8pm featuring
a presentation by artist Morgan Steward. Public programming continues with a scent-based workshop led by artist
Catherine Haley Epstein on Wednesday, September 26th from 10am - 2pm, and concludes with an exhibition talk by
artists and Public Annex organizers on Friday, October 19th, 2018 from 6 - 8pm. All events are free and open to all people
along the disability spectrum.
Can Touch This presents work by artists, makers and organizations who are concerned with the experiential qualities of
visual art that lie beyond the eye, and situate themselves instead within the multi-sensory. In an effort to challenge a
notion of a dominant sense, the works curated include access points for engagement in non-visual ways: through touch,
sound, smell and taste. In this way, Public Annex considers exhibition design and curatorial praxis that intentionally
dismantles sensory bias. Can Touch This invites patrons to reassess the concepts of biological privilege and limitation
while transgressing the many seen and unseen barriers present in typical contemporary art exhibitions.
"Touch teaches us that life has depth and contour; it makes our sense of the world and ourself three-dimensional.
Without that intricate feel for life there would be no artists, whose cunning is to make sensory and emotional
maps, and no surgeons, who dive through the body with their fingers."
- A Natural History of the Senses by Diane Ackerman