Art as a Voice for Hearing Loss

by Carolyn Edlund

Artist Priscila Soares’ work is focused on speaking out about hearing loss, motherhood and spirituality.

 

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Artwork bringing awareness to deafness and hearing loss by artist Priscila Soares

“A Determined Warrior” digital painting by Priscila Soares

 

Priscila Soares began to lose her hearing as a teenager. Over the years she underwent medical procedures and surgeries, with varied results. Ultimately she found that educating herself, gaining self-acceptance, and maintaining a positive attitude has put her in a position to be an advocate and inspiration for others who are deaf or limited in their hearing. Soares describes herself as “a person with severe hearing loss on a spiritual path of inner exploration.”

After her second son was born, he was diagnosed with a severe to profound hearing loss in both ears. Soares began using different mediums to create art related to hearing loss, in order to bring “visibility to an invisible disability.” We recently had a conversation about her work, her purpose and the opportunities this has produced.

 

Painting of a deaf ballerina by Priscila Soares

“The Deaf Ballerina” digital painting by Priscila Soares

 

AS: Your art portrays images of people with hearing loss, but also shares other stories too. How would you describe the themes in your work?

PS: When I decided to pursue my art professionally, I was just turning 40. I’ve spent so many years thinking about diving into it, but never had the courage to do so. What changed was that as my two sons became old enough to be more independent, I realized I had more time to myself, but I had no idea how to handle that extra free time. It was as if I had a part of me taken away.

I was the mom, the partner, the friend, but I gave very little attention to my true desires. I ended up getting sick and depressed and seeking therapy. That’s when I found the courage to start doing art all the way to completion, even if I didn’t like the way it turned out at first.

At that time, I was having very strong symptoms from uterine fibroids. It led me to think about what it means to be a woman, a mother, to have a womb, to create new life from inside of your own body. I dove deep into those themes. I was also embracing the fact that I had many issues with my own hearing loss, which started when I was a teenager.

Being almost deaf, I dreaded group conversations and being in noisy environments. So I avoided many of them at all costs. I understood that in order to overcome that fear, I had to learn how to accept myself for who I am. My way of doing that ended up being thorough my art. I divide my work into three series: Self Discovery, Hearing Loss Portraits and Motherhood.

 

Watercolor on paper about motherhood

“Spiral Past” watercolor on paper by Priscila Soares

 

AS:  What response and feedback have you had about your art and the cause it represents?

PS: When I started sharing my art, I was very focused on my own personal story. It was my therapy. But soon I got some feedback on how my art and the stories behind it were powerful and healing to them as well. A lot of tears happened when I would open the doors to my little studio. It motivated me to invite others to share their stories with me so I could portray them in my art too. It really showed me the power that art can have in people’s lives.

 

Artwork about deafness by Priscila Soares

“Out of the Cochlear Shell” papier mache, cold porcelain, 19″ x 12″ x 8″ by Priscila Soares

 

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AS: What types of opportunities have opened up to share your art and your message?

PS:  I got invited to illustrate two children’s books “All the ways I hear you” and “Now Hear This – Harper Soars with Her Magic Ears” and have more on the way. I became one of the Ambassadors for Oticon Medical. My art got a lot of press too, mainly from the hearing loss and disability communities. I’ve become an advocate to help people feel seen and honored. The best part is the individual connections I get to make with people because of what I do.

 

Artist Priscila Soares painting a violinist

Priscila Soares works on her painting “The Violin Player” in her studio.

 

AS: How would you like your work to make impact in the world? What are your goals?

PS:  I want to keep honoring people’s stories through my paintings, sculptures, puppets, videos and books. We can learn so much from each other! My wish is for everyone to realize that the things they may believe are impairing to their lives can actually be what makes them so much more powerful and unique. I want them to experience that realization and feel free to embrace who they truly are.

 

 

Learn more about artist Priscila Soares and her work by visiting her website, and following her on Facebook and Instagram.

 

 

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YES PLEASE!

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