Art exhibition speaks up

Those hard of hearing are raising their voices silently through art.

An exhibition at Island Mountain Arts (IMA) in Wells is sounding the bell on the lives lived by the deaf community. The show's theme can be heard loud and clear, despite the physical challenge of its painter. Laurie M. Landry has created a collection she's entitled Deafies: Portraits Of Deaf And Hard Of Hearing Individuals.

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"'Deafies' is a play on 'selfies,' which uses painted portraits to raise awareness about the deaf community, as well as the use of American Sign Language (ASL)," said Julie Fowler, the executive and artistic director at IMA. "In addition to displaying her artwork in the Island Mountain Arts Gallery, Laurie will also have an artist talk in the gallery on the opening night of her exhibition."

That is Friday at 7:30 p.m.

"I have been profoundly deaf since birth," said Landry. "In order to understand what is being said, I read lips, and I often miss important details despite the fact that I wear a hearing aid. I compensate for this by looking for visual clues such as body language, facial expressions and context."

Fowler said IMA became a natural showcase for the exhibition because of Landry's special personal relationship with the Cariboo hamlet southeast of Prince George.

"Laurie considers the small town of Wells to be the origin of her real introduction into art, where as a child she attended an Island Mountain Arts workshop for watercolour painting with artist Edward Epp," Fowler said.

Landry went on to complete a certificate program in fine arts techniques at Emily Carr University of Art & Design.

"Laurie utilizes her experience of deafness into her works and uses them as imprints on her paintings," Fowler said. "Laurie's painting style is traditional representation in which she also incorporates modern materials and techniques. She uses colour and texture to create atmosphere and mood within her landscape paintings as well as her portrait work. For this exhibition, Laurie drew inspiration from different artists who have used context and backstory to create a series that conveys a message and awareness."

The creation of the exhibition was aided by financial support from the Canada Council For The Arts. It runs Friday to July 22 at the IMA Gallery on Pooley Street in Wells. It is open every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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