Cultural Arts Division

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2014 Rockin' The Spectrum

Children, their swimming teachers, and a water portrait artist are Rockin’ the Spectrum. The Town of Chapel Hill has commissioned artist, photographer, and teacher Barbara Tyroler to develop a site-specific artwork for the Homestead Aquatic Center. Tyroler will also produce several public exhibitions of photographic portraits of children and teenagers from the Adaptive Recreation and Inclusion Swim classes at the Homestead pool. The project title references the spectrum of developmental disorders associated with autism, as well as the spectrum of colors an artist might use in rendering a portrait. Tyroler views the entire project as animating, enhancing, or embracing the Adaptive Aquatics photo by Barbara Tyrolerinherent beauty and complexity of both of those spectrums. Tyroler will create evocative and artistically rendered portraits of students with autism and other developmental disabilities as they learn confidence and independence in the water. The portraits will then serve as source material for the production of a series of wind- and fire-resistant, impressionistic banners that will be permanently installed at the Homestead Aquatic Center in June, 2014.

Partnerships with the Autism Society of North Carolina of Orange/Chatham County, the North Carolina Council on Developmental Disabilities, and the Adapted Recreation & Inclusion Program of the Town of Chapel Hill will enable the project portraits to be shown at various galleries and educational venues during 2014 and 2015. Under Tyroler’s leadership, partners will host educational forums to encourage understanding and respect for people with autism and the importance of inclusive programs for youth with disabilities. Tyroler observes, “This project blends fine art and humanitarian work, which is central to my art practice.”

Barbara Tyroler is a well-known artist whose work is exhibited at the FRANK Gallery in Chapel Hill, MoNA Gallery in Charlotte, and universities and hospital centers in the Washington, DC area. She has served as a Photographic Educator at the University of Maryland Art Department, the UNC School of Journalism, and the Duke Center for Documentary Studies. She was an Educational Therapist at the Wright School Re-Education Center and an Educational Therapist at the NC Memorial Hospital Child Inpatient Unit. Tyroler has used her photographic talents for teaching and rehabilitation with the Washington Cancer Institute, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the National Epilepsy Foundation to name a few. Tyroler holds an M.F.A. from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and a M.Ed. from the University of Massachusetts.


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