The ability to hear or see seems natural, and for those of us who can experience the world through these senses, we might not think much of them.
We wake up, open our eyes, and know it’s morning when the light peeks through the blinds. We hear birds chirping and recognize day has come.
But what about those who don’t have the luxury of hearing birdsong or witnessing a sunrise? For the blind and hearing impaired, the world is a completely different place.
While Tina Benawra is not the first artist to incorporate texture or even braille into her paintings, she is still a portrait of what it means to think outside the box when it comes to creative media.
Similar to artist Roy Nachum, Benawra uses Braille in her graffiti-type artwork to speak to those who see through touch.
Also like Nachum, who told New York Daily News his “work is never finished,” Benawra has a heart for reaching others beyond a single canvas.
Benawra is a native of Ngara, Tanzania. She developed her love for science and the arts during her childhood.
She played with the boys near her home. Together they would create toy mini-buses and cars out of tin, wire and bottle caps.
“I think that’s when I acquired my taste for both art and science,” she told Kenyan Arts Review. Though the young woman pursued science first, she never lost her love for art.
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When she discovered that she could combine her two passions — art and engineering — that’s when things really took off.
But it wasn’t until she developed a relationship with Velma Kiome from the Christian Blind Mission in Kenya that Benawra realized her art could do “more,” Business Daily Africa reported.
She started off with the idea of producing textured paintings, but quickly decided she needed to learn Braille to really set her work apart and make a difference.
“I had to really focus on learning Braille,” she shared in a video for Now This. “This is an important aspect if you are going to work with visually impaired individuals and blind people.”
Benawra explains the importance of accuracy in her interview, sharing how this, along with open-mindedness, are key factors in experiencing her work.
The blind and visually impaired can literally put their hands on her work, feeling the textures and also reading descriptions to help them fully embrace and imagine what the work is trying to say.
Benawra hopes to use the proceeds from her paintings to eventually open a recreation center for the disabled.
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