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December 5, 2003

Student communicates through art

From: Otago Daily Times, New Zealand - Dec 5, 2003

By Joanna Norris

Marc Peyroux cannot hear or speak, but has found an artful means of communicating.

The 23-year-old Dunedin man is graduating from Otago Polytechnic today with a bachelor of fine arts in photography and is believed to be the first deaf New Zealand student to graduate with a photography major.

"A picture is a way of showing a silent world," he said through a sign language interpreter yesterday.

An exhibition of his work was on display at Otago Polytechnic yesterday as part of the School of Art's "Site" exhibition, which over the past few days has showcased the work of final-year students.

His black and white photographs depict a shadowy figure, gesticulating or leaping through the air.

"I am expressing the struggles of a person's shadow about to fall or trying to dance with expressions and feelings. My images show unstable emotions and a sense of mystery and movement," Mr Peyroux said in a statement accompanying his work.

Profoundly deaf from birth, Mr Peyroux is all too familiar with the struggles he describes and depicts.

For the past five years, he has been studying towards his qualification. His sister, Simone Peyroux, and brother-in-law, Steev Peyroux, who interpret for the young artist, have helped him through his studies.

He has also relied on a note-taker for lectures.

Steev Peyroux said their involvement was intensive during the first two years of his brother-in-law's course, but as he progressed, he became increasingly independent.

Mr Peyroux said he was extremely grateful for the support he had received from staff, students, family and friends.

"I am proud of how I have learnt to explore in my own way, to look for new ideas," he said.

He hoped to work as an artist, sell some of his work, and offer support to other deaf people with the ambition of studying art.

"I am going to explore my own ideas on deaf culture and meet people in the deaf community so I can support them. If deaf people want to come here, to art school, they can achieve their own strong goals."

Today, Mr Peyroux will graduate with about 350 others in a ceremony at the Dunedin Town Hall.

The graduation ceremony will be fully signed in New Zealand sign language.

© 2003 Otago Daily Times