Braille drawing

Braille I (2009). Diptych. 28×24 inches (each panel). Graphite and gold leaf on paper.


Solitude is very sad,
Too much company twice as bad.

–William Allingham

This drawing is a poem by William Allingham. I love the way graphite looks when it is rubbed very hard into paper and creates a mirror-like surface. I drew out all the letters for the poem in Braille, and divided the lines with spheres of gold leaf.

Although written with Braille letters, I really fouled up the Braille syntax. It turns out there are lots of shortcuts in Braille texts that allow the reader to skim over commonly used words such as and, the, and from, to move through the text more quickly. It totally makes sense that a “tactile grammar” developed for Braille readers: Braille readers are skimming with their fingertips as quickly as a proficient visual reader skims over common words or even whole sentences.

For an interesting article on the cognitive processes involved in reading Braille, see the recent NY Times article, Listening to Braille.

I am a librarian and artist living in Eugene, Oregon — where it is often damp and always green.