If you like my posts about Deafness, or enjoy my free Auslan course, you will love my book, Future Girl, which is the art journal of 16-year-old Piper as she explores her identity as a Deaf teenager in near future Melbourne. The book is packed full of my artwork – 384 pages of art! It’s ideal for anyone who is interested in the environment, food growing, Deafness, sign language, art journaling and art. The book has won numerous awards and is now set to become a TV series.
I found writing about Deaf experience challenging, because Deafness was such an ordinary part of my existence that I rarely thought about it. I began jotting down my daily Deaf encounters – the little annoyances, confusing moments, benefits, the irritating things people say, and the complex feelings that arise when someone has tried to provide access but missed the mark.
I began to articulate aspects of Deafness I had never seen described before. For example, a Deaf dilemma: if I’m standing with a group of hearing people who are laughing, but I have no idea what they are laughing about, should I laugh along to be friendly (and if you do, are you somehow ‘lying’ about having understood?), or stand there with a stony face even though it could seem rude and unfriendly?
I realised everyday I was dealing with difficult decisions like this, but I have never stopped and thought about how I really wanted to respond! Through writing Future Girl, I became aware of so many aspects of my Deafness, and began making conscious choices about my behaviour!
Most of my discoveries about Deafness have gone into my book, Future Girl. My editor, who thought she had a good grasp of Deafness, was stunned by the layers to our experience that she had never considered.
If you like my book, Future Girl / The Words in My Hands, and are interested to do some art journaling along those lines, you might like to try my art therapy course, Pour Your HeART Out. In this video I talk about what you’ll get from the course and show snippets of the course content.
It’s easy for us to ‘other’ people with a disability, to assume this won’t happen to us. But in truth, just as life throws us pandemics and other unexpected obstacles to life as we know it, a wheelchair may only be an illness or accident away. And when it happens, we don’t suddenly become different people. We don’t suddenly stop caring about being cool, or lose our desire to do street art. And yet public perception of people in wheelchairs is often that we will be passive observers to society, and this plays out in books, movies, and the way people relate to us. Mobility equipment is often hideously ugly, created with no thought to aesthetic or style, and no practical storage to allow us to bring our stuff with us. Something’s got to change.
This painting is a part of my exhibition, Love, Lies and Indoctrination, which can be viewed online here.
If you’d like to buy this piece, it’s available here.
I was very excited to wake up and discover that my book, The Words in My Hands (Future Girl in Australia) has won the American Library Association’s Schneider Family Award. It seems this is a significant award in North America and it comes with a money prize too. My Canadian publishers, Annick, promptly ordered another print run to deal with the expected increase of sales as a result. Many schools and libraries look to the ALA to guide them in which books to purchase, so winning this award tells the schools and libraries it’s worth buying the book. For me, the very best thing about all this is that with my passion for raising awareness about Deafness, many more people will read it and gain insight/empathy into what it’s really like to be Deaf.
The other books that won prizes are great too! You can check them all out here:
Are you having a rough time? Struggling with grief, depression, anxiety or trauma?
I made an art therapy course to help you get through this difficult time. Art therapy can help you in two ways. First, the process of gentle art and craft activities can be meditative while not being too challenging, and can help lift your mood. It simply feels therapeutic. Second, it can help you to process your issues in a healthy way, feel cathartic, and release emotions that have built up in your body.
You don’t need to have any prior art experience and you don’t need to be able to write well. If you are an experienced artist or writer, this course will guide you to use those skills in a relaxing therapeutic format. When struggling with our mental health, making decisions can become overwhelming. This course tackles that by providing simple, bite-sized guided activities.
I created the course I wish I had during the rough periods I have gone through. I struck on this process by accident and used it to help me cope with the challenges of chronic illness. I found it comforting, cathartic, enjoyable and satisfying. I kept going back for more, because it felt good. I hope you feel the same way when you give it a try.
If you know anyone who is struggling, who might benefit from a guided creative outlet, please share this with them.