Wendy Steinberg: I want to give a chance for people with visual impairments to enjoy art through touch

Australian artist talked about how artists can combine artistic paths with other careers and how their work can contribute to society.

About self-learning and self-management

I do art part-time, my full-time job is in a pharmacy. I don’t have any formal training as an artist, being mostly a self-learner from online tutorials and experimentation. However, I have been painting since high school, so it’s been about 17 years. I started painting a lot more in the last year and a half. The last 12 months I’ve been working on this exhibition, including all the negotiations to arrange it.

About techniques, colors, and love for nature

I’ve created all of my paintings through a combination finger and brush painting, which it gives them their unusual texture. I want my visitors to have a full experience of the exhibition, that’s why I allow them to touch the paintings. Of course, touching has to be gentle and hands need to be disinfected first (Wendy had arranged a special disinfection station on the spot).

In this way, I also give a chance for people with visual impairments to enjoy art through touch. 

I have always loved deep sea creatures. I grew up watching David Attenborough documentaries. I find deep-sea animals so fascinating, and I started to paint them for fun, but then decided to make more for the exhibition. 

The colors I have used are also unusual, I wanted them to really stand out and draw people’s attention. People comment a lot on the color schemes. I used a lot of yellow because it is one of the brightest colors.

I’m from North Queensland originally and have only been in Hobart for 3 years. My husband and I are doing a lot of bush walking and snorkeling. Tasmania is a great place to get in touch with and get inspired by nature.

About opportunities for young artists at Salamanca Art Center

This gallery, the ‘Top Gallery’, is reserved for emerging artists. It hosts either a single artist or a maximum  of two artists, with exhibitions changing monthly.

The Arts Center management puts out a call for proposals twice a year, in April and in September, artists have to write up a proposal and send samples of works, then a board of selectors chooses the artists and schedules them for the next 6 months. Artists can put a scale of preferences of which months they want their exhibition to be in.

The artist’s contact details are available to visitors to the gallery to organise purchases. The important thing is that the artspace doesn’t take any commissions out of sales. Booking this gallery is part of a Gallery Access Scheme, I pay a fraction of the fee, and the government subsidizes the rest.

The Salamanca Art Center staff takes care of the exhibition on weekdays. However if the artists want it to be open on the weekends, they are required to take care of it on their own.

About future of the artworks after the exhibition

I’m currently doing a proposal to the Tasmanian government to purchase the paintings that haven’t been bought by private owners during the exhibition. The government often buys or commissions artworks for their various institutions. I am hoping that my works will eventually go to a rehabilitation hospital.

The “Giant Squid” painting seems to be the most popular in this exhibition, so I’m thinking to offer it as a print. It will lose its texture of course but hopefully will find more popularity through this different form of art.

In addition, I’m selling online. There is an online gallery called ‘Bluethumb’. They sell it to buyers from all over Australia, and recently they started reaching out to international buyers as well.

About future projects

I’ve started series of Ikebana paintings. It’s a type of Japanese flower arrangement, which are very simple but perfect.

I will use very bright colors again, they just appeal to me, also I plan to work with the same technique, brush painting combined with finger painting, to create a similar texture.

Moreover, I’m interested in trying alcohol inks in some paintings. This is a different technique that I’ve never used before.

Also, I started to study printmaking. And I’m going to actual classes this time, not just taking the online tutorial.  I feel like I have come as far as I can on my own by experimenting, I’m ready to expand to a new territory.

Other interesting stories: