“The visually impaired are a community that are often marginalized or even forgotten about in our communities and institutions, especially when it comes to being able to enjoy the arts. My work predominately focuses on sharing an experience from the perspective of someone who is visually impaired to bring others awareness of how they navigate their daily life. My goal is to make work that is an enjoyable experience for both those who can and cannot physically see. As a response to my own partial blindness, I am interested in the concept of blindness, the viewer’s first impression, and perception using abstract ideas or images. My work encourages the viewer to experience an artwork through touch, and, in so doing, brings an awareness and appreciation of communication and accessibility. Using paint to create thick shapes, while leaving a thin space of raw canvas in between, allows the viewer to touch the textured paint as well as the literal space in between and experience the artwork as a physical abstract landscape. Since the subject matter is abstract, the viewer’s interpretation and personal experience of the work brings the piece to life. The permission of touch invites a wider audience, both visually impaired and sighted viewers, making the juxtaposition of interpretations more interesting. In the same way Braille is read and decoded, the space in between is part of the painting as an unspoken language; a way of communicating and reacting to the image as a whole.”
Olivia Brouwer is an emerging artist from Hamilton, Ontario. In 2016, she graduated from the Art and Art History joint program at the University of Toronto Mississauga and Sheridan College Institute of Technology. Brouwer has won multiple awards for excellence in painting and print making including, but not limited to, the Roger Jowett Memorial Award. Brouwer has also won the 25th Magnotta Anniversary Legacy wine bottle label in the Emerging Artist Competition in 2016. She has exhibited in a number of shows in Ontario including at the Blackwood Gallery, the Art Museum at the University of Toronto, and most recently the Robert Kananaj Gallery in collaboration with Emerging Young Artists.