Sheldon's Jan. 22 program to explore blindness and the visual arts

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Raising awareness and encouraging discourse is the purpose of the Sheldon Museum of Art's Art Beyond Sight Awareness Round Chair Discussion, 2 p.m., Jan. 22.

A group of panelists, both blind and sighted, will sit in the "ORLAN: The Harlequin Coat" exhibition gallery at the Sheldon and discuss blindness and the visual arts. The exhibition invites this type of discourse, and the panelists will be seated in chairs that are part of ORLAN's installation. Visitors are encouraged to participate in the live discussion and submit questions before the event on Sheldon's Facebook Page,

Discussion panelists include:

Merrith Baughman, a ranger with the National Park Service for 20 years. She became chief ranger at Homestead National Monument of America in 2005 and has overseen the completion of the monument's new visitor center, a new park film and new park-wide outdoor exhibits. Baughman was instrumental in implementing exhibits that enhance the experience for the blind audience.

Shane Buresh was born three months premature, which resulted in his loss of eyesight. He attended and graduated from Raymond Central High School and Peru State College. At Peru State he earned a bachelor's in education and holds Nebraska teaching certification in both secondary mathematics and special education. He is finishing a master's degree in special education from UNL and is endorsed as a teacher of visually impaired children in Nebraska. Buresh has worked for the past 13 years as an orientation counselor at the Nebraska Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired, which in large part involves the education of blind persons of all ages and walks of life, on the non-visual techniques utilized by the blind to live independent and fulfilling lives. He also serves on the Nebraska board of the National Federation of the Blind and is president of the Lincoln chapter.

Janet Coleman knew at age 27 that she would lose her sight. She has lost almost all her vision to retinitis pigmentosa. Coleman came to Lincoln in 1963 with her husband who was a printmaker and taught in UNL's Department of Art and Art History. Her life has always been surrounded by artwork and although she can no longer see it, Coleman still values art of all kinds.

Fatos Floyd is a graduate of Bosphorus University in Istanbul, Turkey, has a master's degree in counseling from Webster University in St. Louis and is a certified rehabilitation counselor. Floyd has 28 years of rehabilitation and advocacy experience. For the last 15 years, she has been working as the director of the Nebraska Center for the Blind. "As a native of Turkey, I believe that it is important to share my knowledge and experience both as a blind individual and as a rehabilitation professional with blind people back in Turkey," she said.

Sahar Husseini was born blind, but was always intrigued by colors and the energy they emanate. Designing and making beaded jewelry enabled Sahar to increase her understanding of colors and learn how to manipulate them. She enjoys making necklaces and bracelets, using different textures and types of beads. Her one-of-a-kind jewelry is available for purchase in the Sheldon Museum Store.

Susan Ledder majored in art and anthropology at the State University of New York at Albany. She steered away from active art pursuits until 2006 when she took a drawing class at UNL, and after that continued pursuing art education.

Barbara Loos grew up in Weeping Water, Nebraska City and Lincoln. Her formal schooling took place at the Nebraska School for the Visually Handicapped, now the Nebraska Center for the Education of Children Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired; Nebraska City High School; and UNL, where she graduated with distinction, earning a bachelor's degree in education. She has served as president, treasurer and in various other positions for the National Federation of the Blind of Nebraska and is currently its Braille Outreach Coordinator, promoting Braille not only for reading and writing, but also as a medium for expressing tactile art.

James Nyman was blinded in an explosion at age 11 and entered a residential school for the deaf and blind in Vancouver, British Columbia. Nyman graduated with honors with a degree in political science from the University of British Columbia and entered graduate school at the University of California. He completed his doctorate in 1966 while teaching at the University of Chicago and three years later began teaching political science and philosophy at Trinity University in San Antonio. Nyman became director of the Nebraska State Services for the Visually Impaired in 1974, retiring in 1998. He is a member of the 2010 Executive Leadership Institute, a national organization designed for emerging leaders who are blind or visually impaired.

Stephanie Wagle, a UNL student majoring in English, loves being part of the creative process and her studies emphasize musical theater. Wagle has macular degeneration and uses Braille.

The event is open to the public. Admission to the museum is free. For more information on art education for the blind, go to

- Sarah Baker-Hansen, Sheldon Museum of Art

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