It’s a warning sign at art galleries and museums around the world: “Don’t touch the artwork.” But one artist based in Laguna Beach, California wants you to do just that. Andrew Myers creates mixed media works with screws, oil paint, charcoal, bronze, cement, and found objects. “Distinct”, “expressive” and “tactile” are words he uses to describe his portraits made of thousands of screws (a single piece can use up to 10,000 or more), where touch is important to experiencing the work as it brings the subjects to life with volume and texture.
At his website, Meyers explains that one of his most defining and inspiring moments as an artist was watching a blind man experience his work for the first time. “As the man ran his hands over a large three-dimensional portrait tediously constructed with tens of thousands of screws over hundreds of man hours, his blank expression suddenly transformed into a warm smile. He could feel what others could only see,” Meyers shares.
“Most people are drawn to the portraits because they have something different about them. Seeing them in person is a whole different feel than seeing the photograph. They have a sense of depth that the photo can’t capture.” In light of this, Meyers recently collaborated with George Wurtzel, a blind artisan and teacher who must rely on his tactile sense to see and is building a Tactile Art Gallery in Napa. A new film titled Please Touch the Art records Wurtzel’s experience of Meyer’s work for the first time.
“We snuck into George’s future gallery and hung the portrait for him to discover. As he experienced this for the first time (and between bursts of laughter) he kept repeating the phrase, ‘Mind boggling.’ Not every piece of art needs to or should be touched… But perhaps it’s time we took a look at how pervasive and mandatory our “no touching” rules really are- it might help everyone see artwork a little differently.”