Greenport sculpture garden brings art to the visually impaired

Ginés Serrán-Pagán's "Caballo" (Credit: Claire Leaden)

Ginés Serrán-Pagán’s “Caballo” (Credit: Claire Leaden)

Appreciating the beauty of a sculpture is a different experience for the sight-impaired, but one that can be enhanced with the right audial description.

That’s why Peconic Landing’s annual sculpture garden exhibition, titled “Art without Barriers,” will bring the statues to life for the visually impaired with Podcasts describing the exhibit.

“The name of the show is ‘Art without Barriers’ because it’s art that is accessible,” curator Dominic Antignano explained. “What we’ve tried to do is make the visual verbal.”

In order to accomplish this feat, the Greenport retirement community’s Resident Art Committee worked with artists and blind residents to create detailed audio descriptions to accompany nine out of the 20 sculptures in the fifth annual garden exhibit.

The exhibition welcomed three new pieces of art from renowned Spanish artist Ginés Serrán-Pagán, whose paintings and sculptures have been collected by the Guggenheim Museum of New York. There are audio descriptions for Serrán-Pagán’s pieces as well as for six others in the garden.

Serrán-Pagán’s pieces include “Wenchuan” and “Caballo,” two bronze horse sculptures, and “Platón,” a bronze figure posed in a thinking position.

Still, the audio descriptions of the pieces aren’t quite what one would imagine.

“To make a descriptive audio of the piece you can’t just say, ‘it looks like a horse and it’s green,'” Antignano said. “There’s actually a standard that the National Federation of the Blind and the Helen Keller Institute uses for descriptive audio. It has to be done correctly.”

The sculpture garden is open for the public to enjoy and the podcasts of the descriptions can be downloaded by searching “Peconic Landing” on iTunes. For those without smart phones, there are iPods available to be borrowed, thanks to a grant from the Mattituck Lions Club. The audio ranges from two to five minutes long.

The podcast for the piece “Wenchuan” begins with Antignano stating the material and size of the horse, then saying it “can be seen grazing quietly next to its cousin horse ‘Caballo,’ ignoring the visitors and guests passing by.”

Next Serrán-Pagán’s Spanish explains that in 2008 he wanted to create two horse sculptures expressing the two different worlds humans live in. One, “tame and integrated into human society,” represented by the horse in the saddle, and the other being wild and free, “away from social norms and rules.”

“Peconic Landing is not just a retirement community; we focus on culture,” Director of Sales Laurelle Cassone said. “One of the things that we’re very specific about is as you’re aging … you constantly have to engage your mind, body and spirit in all facets of life.”

Peconic Landing is located at 1500 Brecknock Road in Greenport.

Dominic Antignano with Platon by Ginés Serrán-Pagán. (Credit: Claire Leaden)

Dominic Antignano with Platon by Ginés Serrán-Pagán. (Credit: Claire Leaden)

Credit: Claire Leaden

Hard Knocks by Mike Hansel. (Credit: Claire Leaden)

Solitude by Robert Strimban. (Credit: Claire Leaden)

Solitude by Robert Strimban. (Credit: Claire Leaden)

Rainbow Totem by Steven Zaluski (Credit: Claire Leaden)

Rainbow Totem by Steven Zaluski (Credit: Claire Leaden)