Artist enables the blind to develop touch for art

July 23, 1992|By Angela Gambill | Angela Gambill,Staff Writer

Nora Linkins creates art for an audience that will never see it.

The 60-year-old decided to produce artwork for the visually impaired when her own mother lost her sight.

These are pictures to touch, rather than simply look at, says Mrs. Linkins, whose work is on display this week at a Challenged Art Show at the Severna Park library.

"You don't see people in art museums that are blind," says Mrs. Linkins. "But why can't we have pictures in Braille, so to speak? Why should a blind person be denied seeing an art gallery?"

The Deale resident is known as "Oyster Lady" at county nursing homes, where she has taken pictures containing oyster shells and other natural objects such as seashells and veined leaves to tell stories you can feel.

A cassette tape accompanies the scenes, explaining what the blind person is "seeing" through touch.

"Why should blind people be deprived of the beauty in art?" she asks rhetorically, then answers her own question. "I'm hoping to renovate my mother's home in Millersville and convert it to a museum and art gallery for blind people."

Four of Mrs. Linkins' pictures are on display at the Severna Park show, which is sponsored by the Maryland Parks and Recreation Association, along with Very Special Arts of Maryland.

Mrs. Linkins' work, on display through tomorrow, includes "Lady Chesapeake," a woman made of oyster shells, with a sea urchin for a parasol.

Another picture, Christmas on the Bay, consists of a crab boat made of seashells with cardboard sails covered with lights. Tiny pine cones dot the "ground."

Mrs. Linkins calls the pictures "touching beauty."

And she does not speak lightly when she talks about how important it is for everyone, including the blind and disabled, to enjoy as much of life's goodness as possible. Herself a victim of lung cancer, Mrs. Linkins also was born with an extra finger on each hand.

"I took care of my brother and sister, who were mentally incompetent," she says. "And I started this artwork when my mother became blind. Everyone has a right to enjoy life."

When she came up with the concept of Art for the Blind, Mrs. Linkins contacted various art galleries in the area to inquire if such works existed. She says they laughed at the idea.

She was not deterred.

"I don't do it for fortune, fame or glory," says Mrs. Linkins. "Art is about bringing joy."

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