Pathways to Independence

Arizona Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ACBVI), Phoenix, Arizona
6’ x 10’
Handmade ceramic tile, rock, glass, and other natural materials


Designed by Niki Glen and Helen Helwig, Pathways to Independence is a tactile public art work created with students and adults from ACBVI’s adaptive ceramics program. The two main goals with this piece was to celebrate the ability to change and develop new skills anytime in life and to explore different ways of seeing.


The mural celebrates people like Steve Welker who found a new form of independence after losing his sight as an adult. Through the programs at ACBVI, Welker was able to return to his career despite his blindness. Welker has since joined the Board of Directors and is involved with the community through motivational speaking. His positive and inspiring spirit embodies the “keeping independence by finding ways to see” philosophy of ACBVI, and the tactile art piece expresses this empowering belief. The mosaic explores “seeing” by transforming images into textures. Some of the textures are smooth and shiny, some are coarse and matte. There are Braille words included in the imagery… so one can feel the differences in art and imagery. The art piece has low relief hand carved clay with scenes of achievement. Art is seen in many ways, and this mural explores and demonstrates the different ways to experience art.