Iowa artist Jill Wells makes art accessible with ‘the power of touch’

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Inside the Tom and Ruth Harkin Center at Drake University, a short trail of paper cut-out butterflies traces the curve of a large white ramp that leads to the building’s second floor. From afar, the butterflies are soft in color, their pastel-hued bodies pressed against the surface, the tips of […]

Inside the Tom and Ruth Harkin Center at Drake University, a short trail of paper cut-out butterflies traces the curve of a large white ramp that leads to the building’s second floor. From afar, the butterflies are soft in color, their pastel-hued bodies pressed against the surface, the tips of their wings lifted as if in motion and fluttering away.

But another look revealed a bold message.

Tiny raised dots are scattered all over the butterflies, some of which appear to have landed on top of framed pages and blended right in. To sighted people, the patterned dots may look like ridges that give the paper dimension, but there’s more to the story, local artist Jill Wells teased. The images altogether, she said, are braille translations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, a civil rights law that prohibited disabled people from being discriminated against and protects their rights.

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