Originally Posted 29 August 2012
I have been talking alot with my friend at the club about her being a dancer. Amy has me very curious because she is totally deaf. Being deaf is all she has known since she explained to me that she was born deaf. We communicate mainly with ASL and writing things down, she always comments that I can just talk to her because she is a fine lip reader. Even so, I feel alot is lost in translation. Amy remains the most interesting person I talk with at the club. Due to her so called “disability” and my ASL knowledge our boss sees to it that she spends 90% of the night dancing on my bar (a stage on one side and bar on the opposite) and out of the stage rotation for the most part. Which is great for her I think because her “fans” always know where to find her.
I have been informally interviewing Amy for quite a while now, it’s regular conversations but there are specific things I like to talk about with her. First is the fact that she is a dancer (stripper) in a full nude club. Now, I have been “talking” with Amy for over 6 months now as well as watching how well she dances to her music choices. She has always told me she dances based on “feeling” the music. When she feels the music she can close her eyes and “hear” the music, which she says is more like seeing the music in her head. Taking my hearing for granted, I understand being able to feel the music in my body but I am very sure our interpretations of what we feel are very different. I have the luxury of being able to hear music and feel music. Amy told me once, while laughing at me, that being able to hear the music is actually a burden for me because my brain has become lazy and doesn’t actually know what it is feeling. Makes sense in many ways. The club is so damn loud that I wear hearing protection to drown out the “noise”, yet I still hear everything clearly, just at a much lower volume.
She is also a proclaimed self-taught artist. She is very interesting to listen to when she explains her art to me as she sees it. She considers her art to fall into the category of abstract because she interprets what she is feeling as well as seeing. As discussed, feeling the impact of something for her is much different than it is for me. I can relate in a way, being color blind I see the world much different than most see it. There is something in her art that makes a person, me at least, want to reach out and touch it. Sounds bizarre, but it is what I was compelled to do more than once.
She, like many artists, has a complex definition of “abstract art” in a way that it isn’t realistic yet it is. Yet even though she calls her work abstract to a point, she actually always has a subject in mind when she paints. She takes a figure, an object, or landscape and simplifies it, then exaggerates it, and then stylize it all in some way. She yells me that she is not trying to imitate things she sees, but to uses these things as a jumping off point. The colors, lines, and forms are more important than the actual details of the actual subject matter. She just wants to give a sense or a feel for the subjects she paints rather than an exact replication. Throughout our conversations I have collected that her art has no intentional beginnings in any subject and is really non-representational.
She seems to be blessed with a natural interest in the visual world. Others, like myself, can only try to cultivate this sense by paying attention to their surroundings. Seeing our environment is easy if we take off the headphones, put down our book, turn off the television and just look at our world to see everything we were missing. Her and I have this in common, as a people watcher I am often amazed at the joy I experience by just looking. Amy takes it a few steps further than most because she sees things differently than I do, she has no sense of “sound” to help identify or clarify something that may be happening around her. On the flip side, I would have to guess that because I can hear these things that my senses are not as sharp. Never hearing a single sound in her life, I wondered if when she was in the womb of her mother how silent that must have been. I would like to think that the heartbeat of her mother gave her comfort in ways I can’t even begin to imagine.
She told me the next time I look at painting, or any kind of art to not begin by searching for some identifiable object from my world. Instead, try to enter her world and the world created by it. Relax and let your eye leisurely wander over the painting’s surface. Let your heart and mind react to its colors, shapes, and textures. Knowing that I react differently to colors than her, I still react. Let yourself be drawn into the illusion of its spaces, the action of its lines, the mood of its atmosphere. Now step back and look at the painting from a distance. What is it’s impact as you approach it? Amazing advice. I tried it, more than once on the same piece of art and I reacted differently each time. She is smart way beyond the 19 years she has been on this Earth. I have learned much from her, maybe I can see and hear the things in my world a little differently now.