Kleege brings to NYU Steinhardt her rich body of work, which includes the personal essay collection Sight Unseen (1999), an autobiographical account of Kleege’s own blindness alongside a cultural critique of depictions of blindness in literature, film, and language. Her following book, Blind Rage: Letters to Helen Keller (2006), transcends the boundaries between fiction and nonfiction to reimagine the life and legacy of this celebrated disability icon.
Kleege’s latest, More than Meets the Eye: What Blindness Brings to Art (2018), explores how blindness is represented in art and how blindness affects the lives of visual artists. In it, Kleege also offers recommendations about how museums can make visual art accessible to people who are blind and visually impaired. Kleege is a long-term accessibility advocate and has served as a consultant to art institutions around the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Tate Modern in London.
I am honored and excited to be a Steinhardt Scholar-in-Residence this year. I grew up in New York, so being affiliated with NYU Steinhardt is a kind of homecoming for me.
Throughout her residency, Kleege will participate in workshops, guest lectures, and public events. Such participation is a highlight of the NYU Steinhardt Dean’s Scholars-in-Residence program, which launched in 2018 with the goal of welcoming distinguished academics, artists, advocates, and other thought leaders to the NYU Steinhardt community.
While at Steinhardt, Kleege will serve as a curator, alongside visiting research scholar Simi Linton and associate professor Mara Mills, for the Proclaiming Disability Arts project, which has received Ford and Mellon funding and which aims to actively subvert the hierarchies that exist in disability studies, disability rights, and Disability Arts. She will also act as a commenter during a screening, hosted by Steinhardt’s Dance Education program, of Dark Room Ballet, which offers specialized introductory dance curricula for blind and visually impaired dancers.
In addition, Kleege also brings her perspective and depth of knowledge to Steinhardt students, serving as a guest lecturer in the undergraduate Disability, Technology, and Media course and as a participant in events at the NYU Center for Disability Studies throughout the year.
Kleege said, “In addition to working with MCC and the Center for Disability Studies, I look forward to collaborating with the NYU Ability Project at the Tandon School of Engineering, the Center for Ballet and the Arts, the Institute of Fine Arts and elsewhere. New York is home to a dynamic and diverse disability arts culture and I am eager to introduce the NYU community to its vibrancy.”