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March 4, 2004

'Through the looking glass'

From: Saugus Advertiser, MA - Mar 4, 2004

By Dinah Cardin /
Thursday, March 4, 2004

Exhibit showcases art by the visual and hearing impaired

Suzann Bedrosian is highly aware of that which is visual. She is quite attuned to subtle variations in color and light and understands the healing affects found in a powerful image.

A Saugus resident of the past 11 years and a professional social worker and therapist, Bedrosian has been painting since she could hold a brush. She recently became an alternative healing therapist, coach and consultant, using her art to demonstrate her understanding of energy healing.

As a deaf artist, Bedrosian's work is currently appearing in "The Looking Glass: Perspectives from Deaf Artists," an exhibit in Boston for deaf, hard-of-hearing and deaf-blind artists in the commonwealth.

The show, exhibited on Boylston Street, is a part of the Access Art Program of VSA Arts of Massachusetts and was made possible through the collaboration with the Boston Deaf Art, a group of deaf and hard-of-hearing artists.

The group put out a call for art by people who are deaf, hard of hearing or deaf-blind and selected two to three pieces from each artist. VSA Arts of Massachusetts is an affiliate of the international VSA arts organization promoting access to the arts, culture and community by people with disabilities.

Bedrosian, who works mainly in watercolor and multimedia, heard about the exhibit through a friend, who is also an artist.

"My art inspired her as hers inspired me and she encouraged me to submit my work for this particular show," Bedrosian said in an e-mail. "I am passionate about art. I see everything as art or an inspiration for me to create. Lately, I've been experimenting with recycle properties or items or things that have no purpose for me any longer - lint from the dryer, pieces of thread, old buttons or beads, photos, jewelry, bric-a-brac collections that have lost appeal, etc.

"Art is a medium of free expression and love for me," she continued. "No one will access my inner world until I have a chance to do my art work. And because I am an intuitive, I will paint or create from a place of non-existence. When I am busy creating I am in my spiritual or light body. That is energy healing in a spacious flow form."

Coming together

The show began out of a collaboration between VSAM and Boston Deaf Arts group, a collaboration formed last summer of about 20 deaf, hard-of-hearing and deaf-blind artists, started by a woman named Diane Squires.

She also started the Boston Deaf Art Yahoo group online, so that the artists may communicate with each other and share ideas about promoting and empowering themselves.

"There are quite a few unknown deaf artists within the deaf, hard-of-hearing and deaf-blind community, and the Yahoo group is one avenue for us to support each other," Squires said in an e-mail. "The deaf artists themselves have faced some communication and cultural barriers while trying to establish their art careers due to oppression and lack of understanding within the hearing community."

The title of the exhibit, "Looking Glass: Visual Perspectives from Deaf Artists" derives from the fact that each artist created his or her own works through their visual perspectives, said Squires. The artists expressed their feelings and experiences using various mediums such as watercolors, oil painting, charcoal, clay, plaster, computerized digital images, photography and color pencil. Some of their works are related to their feelings as a proud deaf individual.

"The community at large has been enlightened by our wonderful artworks, especially the deaf-blind community. We have provided tactile interpreted tours for members of the deaf-blind community who have been able to touch and feel some of the artworks," Squires said. "We have received many visitors daily since the show first opened."

"Art is introspective. When the artist involves him or herself in an activity it is about being true to oneself and allowing all experiences of expression come forward that might not otherwise," she said.

According to many artists, art therapy will continue to be a very important way to heal for many people in this chaotic world. Bedrosian said she sees and experiences certain things for clients as they undergo a very private and personal healing journey when in a session with her.

"Art therapy is very non-judgmental," said Bedrosian. "It allows both parties to experience the art as a non-verbal healing form, allowing communication to ripen as to show and tell where or what are the keys to the inside living world or the deep, dark sides of our human psyche."

Different perceptions

Another woman from Saugus was one of those deaf and blind gallery visitors who enjoyed the tactile interpretation of some of the art work. Dorothy Ferri attended last week with her Deaf/Blind Community Access Network provider and knew some deaf and deaf-blind artists.

"I was very interested to view many different wonderful creative pictures in art through tactile interpretation and my fantasies," she said in an e-mail.

She was able to experience the art through touching the creative handcrafted ASL custom-made 3-D alphabet art and by feeling the sculpted statues.

"I was inspired by what deaf, hard-of-hearing and deaf-blind artists can do with their skills..." she said.

Tactile or kinetic art is art that can be touched, felt or sensed, said Bedrosian.

"Texture has meaning or definition through the hands," she said. "Various artists have different motivations for the work they are doing. Some do it for the money, some do it because it is simply beautiful, and others do it because of talent. Many have used art as a tool to overcome oppression or loneliness in the mainstream 'hearing' world."

The show closes this Friday, March 5 with a reception. VSAM will generously provide ASL and deaf-blind interpreters for the closing reception.

Bedrosian's work was also just featured in a show at the Stebbins Gallery in Cambridge.

Eye in Hand: Makings of a Journey towards Healing Recovery in Harvard Square was set up to show various multi-media art and crafts. The show wove an unique tapestry of self-healing, power behind the deaf community and its cultural significance of American Sign Language (ASL).

"It is very important for deaf and hard of hearing artists to be recognized for their talents and abilities as they rarely have the opportunity to showcase their works," said Squires.


"Looking Glass: Visual Perspectives from Deaf Artists" is on display at the gallery of VSA arts, located at 2 Boylston Street in Boston, until March 5. The gallery is open to the public, Mondays through Fridays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

The closing reception will take place on March 5, from 4 p.m. American Sign Language (ASL) and deaf-blind interpreters will be provided at the reception.

Access Art hosts monthly exhibits of featured artists with disabilities as the program provides support for artists with disabilities throughout the commonwealth. The gallery is wheelchair accessible.

For more information, visit or call 617-350-7713 (voice) and 617-350-6836 (TTY).

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