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Deaf Artists Featured in New York Gallery

June 19 2009 | by

Trust by Robin Bartholick

–by Cara Sanders

Artists are often inspired by personal events or experiences in their everyday lives. At one New York Gallery, a group of deaf artists are opening a window into their distinct culture and community.

Tamarind Art Gallery in New York City is showcasing 10 deaf and hard-of-hearing artists at Sonic Chromatic, an exhibit featuring members of New York City’s Deaf Council, a not-for-profit organization that aims to promote awareness and interaction between the deaf and hearing community.

Through various mediums, such as painting, printmaking, sculpture, video, and installation, the artists work to portray their own experience as a deaf or hard-of-hearing person. Each artist has a unique style and mode of expression that distinguishes him or her from the rest.

Two of the most striking pieces include Patti Durr’s “And There Was Light” and Robin Bartholick’s “Trust.” Durr’s mixed-media collage draws from a folk-art precedence. In this piece, a woman with the sun shining near her extends her hand to a neutral-colored hand that’s attached to a dark and ambiguous face. This brightly colored collage offers up symbols of hope and a future for those who are in a difficult place.

Bartholick’s digital photographs intentionally upset the viewer’s perception of reality and raise a sense of confusion. For example, in one photograph (shown above) a woman balances upside down atop an elephant’s trunk. This appears to be a circus scene, but the personal perspective of the camera really pulls the viewer in to the piece and draws attention to the precarious situation and the possibility of imminent danger at hand. There is a sense of isolation that perhaps comes from Bartholick’s personal history with disability and his own feelings of solitude.

Sonic Chromatic highlights many the different emotions and feelings associated with the experiences of deaf and hard of hearing artists. The breadth of this show further demonstrates that each of these artists each have unique styles and messages, such as hope, darkness, and the exploration of thought. The exhibit beautifully bridges the gap between different artistic mediums while allowing the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community to stand out on their own as an integral and unique part of the larger art world.

Sonic Chromatic is showing until June 25 at the Tamarind Art Gallery, 142 East 39th Street in New York City. For more information, visit

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