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May 5, 2006

Art allows deaf artist to listen

From: Battle Creek Enquirer, MI - May 5, 2006

Stephanie Antonian Rutherford
The Enquirer

Chuck Baird was born deaf, but that hasn't stopped him from listening to others.

Baird is an artist who has traveled across the world to teach and create art with both deaf and hearing-abled students. Baird, of Texas, is in Battle Creek this week to teach at the Community Inclusive Recreation's Et Cetera Art Studio.

He said that teaching art is a way for him to both express himself and listen to what others are feeling inside.

"I am very privileged to be here and share with you," Baird signed to the crowd as an interpreter spoke. "This is what art should be. It's a gift that we can give to each other."

Baird, who has showcased his work in New York, California and Japan, worked alongside CIR students and staff to create the De'VIA (Deaf View Image Art) Life Exhibit, which opened Thursday and will be on display at the Et Cetera Art Studio through June.

"Working with Chuck is an honor because he is so well known in the deaf community," said Grace Hetrick of DEAFLink in Battle Creek. "The fact that deaf students can learn from him and see him as a success story really means a lot."

The exhibit features dozens of young community artists who used bright colors and incorporated images, like sign language, that relate to deaf expression.

"I used eyes and hands because it shows how deaf people talk and communicate," said artist David Gray, 14, who had three pieces in the show.

Student artwork also is for sale at the studio, 157 Capital Ave. N.E. Proceeds go to both CIR and the artists. Information and prices are available by calling 788-6653.

Baird's own exhibit will open today at the Art Center of Battle Creek, 165 E. Emmett St. He said working with students and exhibiting his art has given him a way to communicate without using words.

"Deaf people cannot hear, so art is our music," he said. "It is music to our eyes."

©2006 Battle Creek Enquirer.