Watch this inspiring session on engaging with the blind and visually impaired community through tactile art workshops. High school student Rishika Kartik will share her experience running the Colorado Tactile Art Club, art workshops at the Colorado Center for the Blind, Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind, Braille Institute, her “Vision of the Artist’s Soul 2020” (VAS) Arts in Society Grant program, and collaborations with NFB and different museums.
More information on Rishika's projects and art initiatives:
Rishika Kartik is a High School Junior at St.Mary's Academy in Colorado. A "creative activist", Rishika is committed to using art as a catalyst for justice, equality, and change.
Over the last three years, she has worked with the teachers of students with visual impairment across different school districts in Colorado, Colorado Center for the Blind, Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind and Anchor Center for the Blind and Braille Institute to create accessible art classes for students who are blind and visually impaired.
In January of 2020, she became the youngest President of the Colorado Tactile Art Club (TAC) and conducts monthly art workshops through touch and works to create opportunities for blind students to explore their imagination and make accessible art. Rishika has been conducting TAC meetings virtually since April of last year and each month we explore a new art form and medium. Inspired by this, she founded a project called “Vision of the Artist's Soul” (VAS), and is the youngest ever recipient of the 2020 Arts-In-Society Grant. If you are interested, Rishika blog has all the fun projects the students have worked on in the last year. Her work has been featured by CBS4 Denver.
Rishika is a proud member of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), and has conducted art studio sessions at their annual state convention on accessibility/challenging social norms. She was also part of the Washington Seminar the last two years to advocate for NFB’s three legislative initiatives at the Capitol, which inspired her to pursue advocacy by creating the design for the 2020 White Cane Day celebration and starting the social media campaign #MyCaneMyIndependence. The mission of #MyCaneMyIndependence is to raise awareness for White Cane day and to advocate for the rights of individuals who are blind and visually impaired to travel independently. It also aims to celebrate the achievements of blind individuals and advocate for policies and infrastructure for a more accessible and inclusive society.
Subsequently, Rishika has started a committee at NFB with key people who are experts in museum accessibility to advocate for best practices in making museums more accessible to blind and visually impaired visitors. Following this, she founded Touch and Create studios and am currently working with museums and arts centers such as the Denver Art Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Clyfford Still Museum, and the MoMa to conduct interactive art workshop series for people who are blind or have low vision and tactile art exhibitions to spearhead artistic accessibility. Rishika recently participated in Museum Advocacy Day advocating for museums to the congressional representatives.
Rishika also volunteers at the Braille institute and conducts virtual tactile arts workshops as a guest artist.
Additionally, Rishika is on the qualitative analysis team for the Access and Engagement research study working under Dr. Penny Rosenblum (Director of Research, American Foundation for the Blind) examining the Impact of COVID-19 on students from birth to age 21 with Visual Impairments. She is also pursuing an independent app development project with Professor Paul Ruvolo at Olin College of Engineering to create an interactive game that teaches visually impaired students vital cane techniques and orientation/mobility skills. Finally, Rishika been invited to be on the advisory board for the Pearson Education Tactile Graphics Study in April of 2021.
Rishika has been part of a number of panel discussions including the Colorado Health Foundations’ "At the Heart of the Matter” series - A New Generation of Good Troublemakers and Redline’s “Engaging Communities in Extraordinary Times”, MCA Denver Teens in conversation about the state of the education system.
Art has enriched Rishika's life in ways she couldn't imagine, and she hopes to give the gift of art to other young individuals. Her ability to use art as a catalyst for change would help her life goal to create a more equitable world. Her journey has just begun, and she can’t wait for what's to come!