AMES, Iowa — An exhibition examining the ways pattern, language and visual art connect will kick off the 2016-17 season at the Iowa State University Design on Main Gallery, 203 Main St. in downtown Ames.

“It’s Not Neither: Scale and Consequence in Braille Installations” by Professor Ingrid Lilligren, chair of the ISU Department of Art and Visual Culture, will run from Aug. 22 through Sept. 25. Gallery hours are 2 to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

A public reception and walk-through of the exhibition with Lilligren will be from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11.

The west wall of the gallery will feature “It’s Not Neither,” a narrative text in Braille that responds to artist and historian Nell Irvin Painter’s New York Times op-ed piece, “What is Whiteness?” The gallery will house seven additional ceramic artworks employing Braille, including four that incorporate poetry by Debra Marquart, ISU professor of English, as part of an ongoing collaboration with Lilligren. To provide access for the sight-impaired, printed Braille accompanies all the work.

Past projects by Lilligren incorporating Braille have led to further explorations of this tactile writing system. Developed in the 1820s by Frenchman Louis Braille, this text is based on a rectangular six-dot cell, with up to 64 possible combinations that use one or more of the six dots to represent letters, numerals and punctuation. This allows those without sight to access texts and provides a form of communication similar to what is available to sighted individuals. For the sighted, Braille appears as a rhythmic flow of patterns, a visual language evoking meaning. In these projects, Lilligren employs Braille to express cultural, political and social blindness.

About the Artist

Lilligren has taught courses in ceramics and public art at Iowa State since 1993. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and a Master of Fine Arts from the Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, Calif. Recent exhibitions include “Invisible” at Woodbury University Hollywood Gallery, Los Angeles; “Touch: The World at Your Fingertips” at Musee de la Main, Museum of Design Arts, Lausanne, Switzerland; “Sculpture in the Garden” at the Maloof Foundation, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.; and “Relationships: Spheres of Influence” at the ISU Brunnier Art Museum. Her work is part of numerous public and private art collections.

Lilligren has been instrumental in the development of a community arts outreach program linking the ISU Department of Art and Visual Culture and ISU Extension and Outreach. Through initiatives like the Artists Next Door, the Biorenewables Art Competition and the “Relationships” cycle of exhibitions at the Brunnier Art Museum, she has helped strengthen the role of the visual arts as a driver for innovation and creative linkages across campus and communities.


Ingrid Lilligren, Art and Visual Culture, (515) 294-8883, ililligr@iastate.edu
Kyle Renell, Design on Main Gallery, designonmain@iastate.edu
Heather Sauer, Design Communications, (515) 294-9289, hsauer@iastate.edu