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Habitat: Obsessions—A Look at Barbara Bloom’s Collection of Braille Objects

Barbara Bloom and a Braille typewriter in her collection.

Barbara Bloom and a Braille typewriter in her collection.

Habitat: Obsessions is a ten-part series of visits to the surprising non-art collections of art-world professionals.

Artist Barbara Bloom became interested in Braille because, in her words, “The letters are hard to see.” As Bloom told me, “This creates a kind of poetic parity; what is clear to the blind is obscure to the sighted.” The first piece in her collection was a Braille Playboy magazine. “In the 1980s,” she says, “I read about a court case. Zealots were trying to stop the Library of Congress from publishing the Braille edition of Playboy. Ironically, and obviously, these issues contained no photographs.” Bloom wrote to the Library of Congress and obtained a copy of one of the magazines in question. Since then, her collection has grown to about 30 Braille objects, including playing blocks, rulers, and globes.

Below, a look at some of Bloom’s Braille objects.

A version of this story originally appeared in the Fall 2016 issue of ARTnews on page 60 under the title “Barbara Bloom: Braille Objects.”

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