I do believe it makes sense to just pick up where I left off the other day? I’ve always loved friends with whom I can do that… we might go years without seeing each other, but then, as soon as we do get a chance to chat over coffee, it’s like we never skipped a beat. It’s a nice feeling, don’t you think? So that’s what we’ll go for, here 😉 So grab your coffee–you can bet I’d have mine if it was an earlier hour (caffeine at 8:30 pm… no, thank you!)…
For anyone who is joining now, my last post was all about how I lost my hearing… the answer to the big question I always get… HOW?… is, “honestly, no one knows.” The doctors ran test after test, to no avail. So, 1995; hearing loss, 1996; Cochlear Implant.
Since my last post introduced my deafness, I thought I would share my senior exhibition from Brevard College with you all. The show is titled Synthesis: The Audio-Visual Connection, and portrays my life as a deaf individual. Each painting revolves around a specific experience in my life. Some of the paintings depict ONE exact moment. You can also read my artist statement from the show here.
Read as much or as little as you want… scroll through the photos, I’m not here to “make” anyone do anything, but I want to share what I love with people I love!
peace, love and art! –Danielle
Many people might recognize the symbol on the right side of this panel. It is a plaster cast of the phrase, “I love you,” in sign language. When I lost my hearing, my family was forced to learn sign language to communicate with me. This sign was one of the first we ever learned; our love for each other and God’s love for each of us was crucial in dealing with our crisis. The left side of the diptych contains the letters for “sound” in sign language. I chose this word partially for its irony, and partially because I have a different type of appreciation for sound than many people. The ground area is dark, representing the lack of sound. The letters S-O-U-N-D are white to represent closed captioning and its superimposition on the regularity behind it.
Music is a big part of my generation. While I would like to say that I listen to music the same way anyone else does, I cannot. Listening to music can be difficult for me because I often do not hear the lyrics above the acoustics. Physically, it is difficult for me to listen to music because I have to use bulky headphones that are conspicuous and impractical. This piece also shows the juxtaposition between two types of transmitting sound: one through the cords of headphones, the other through cords within the interior of my skull.
When I was six years old, I participated in a pageant for deaf children in Chicago. I chose to represent this event through the imagery conveyed by candles for several reasons. First, and most directly, during the awards ceremony of the pageant, we all held white candles, lining the aisle. Because we were deaf, it was completely silent, and we were united by the solitary flames and by a force greater than any of us. The grouping of three-dimensional candles on the right side of the panel shows the power of unity, while the single candle on the left side represents the difference one light can make in the darkness. The candles are burnt out to show the lasting effect a person or memory can have.
This is more of a mechanical piece, representing what happens when my implant battery dies. Often, people ask me whether the battery gradually loses power or if it just dies suddenly. As this painting shows, the battery dies suddenly: one minute, I am having a normal conversation, hearing the same things non-deaf individuals hear, and the next, I am thrust into total silence. I chose to use complementary colors to add to the “noise” of the soundwave, especially compared to the stark almost-black quiet of deafness.
This piece is one of the most direct representations of general deafness in the series. The left side of the diptych incorporates the original Cochlear Implant I received when I was six years old. All the pieces included are actual components of the implant. The right side of the panel portrays a larger-than-life painting of the BTE, or Behind the Ear, which is the implant I currently wear. This piece not only shows my personal progression with the device, but also portrays the incredible growth of technology within the realm of Advanced Bionics.
The right side of this panel portrays the cochlea. As the title of this piece suggests, the doctors at Johns Hopkins do not know why I am deaf. They only know that my cochlea does not function as it should. I have chosen to pair this image with a telephone because it creates a balance between man and machine; natural reception and synthetic. The turbulent clouds surrounding the cochlea, while representing an interior existence also signify the trials in my life; past, present and future.
The left side of this panel is spanned by an audiogram. This particular audiogram portrays significant hearing loss in both ears. Since I was five years old, I have been profoundly deaf in both ears. The imagery of the rose has several meanings in this work. Perhaps most recognizably, the rose represents Christ in my life. When I lost my hearing, I turned to Him, and He has given me the strength to overcome my obstacles. On a more personal note, the rose also represents the pajamas I wore during the surgery: a silky white nightgown with roses and other flowers. The ground area is light, representing the innocence of a child thrust into a world of silence. The fading drips and squares represent the impermanence of mankind and memory.
From the time I was seven years old, theatre was a huge part of my life, and until I was in tenth grade, I could not picture my life beyond the curtain. In tenth grade, that changed. My theatre teacher felt that actors could not be handicapped by a necessity to read lips and began covering her mouth when she spoke to me. This, along with several other incidents, caused me to leave the stage and find something new. While I was frustrated and angry that I was losing a passion, now I have to thank her. Without this trigger, I do not know that I would ever have discovered my even greater passion for art, hence the paintbrushes. As with the candle, the painted brush is cleaner than the three dimensional ones, to represent the future.