Symbolism in Paintings by Living Deaf Artists: Two Examples

Luisella Zuccotti
 [This painting is called 'Silence'. Two hands in the foreground reach forward, as giving you something. In the background, an apparent confusion of colors and shapes resolves itself in various symbols of the four seasons of the year]

To see the painting better, click here.

Born in Basaluzzo (Alessandria) in 1950, she studied in Rome at the "Accademia delle Belle Arti" (arts academy), where she followed post-diploma courses in set design. Currently, she is an Art Education instructor at a middle school in Rome.

She collaborates, as a set designer, with the deaf theater group "Laboratorio Zero" and with another theater company, "A. Bottazzi" in Basaluzzo.

In addition, she does graphic art work in the field of advertising, humorous drawings about the deaf world, and murals.

She has had a one-man show in Basaluzzo in 1983, and has participated in numerous regional and national group shows, receiving prizes and recognition.

 [Cover of 'ASL Poetry - Selected Works of Clayton Valli': behind the title, two blue bands and Zuccotti's painting in the center]

This painting was inspired by a meeting with a deaf American poet, Clayton Valli, in Rome. It was used as the cover for a videotape containing Valli's poems.

The subtitle that the artist has selected conveys a clear message: "The silent language of the hands, in the harmony of Mother Nature."

Inspired by the creative expression in Valli's signed poems, Zuccotti's work vividly depicts a "creativity" concept that is neither noise nor sound, but is peace, fertile silence, nature that speaks, and hands that communicate.

Sergio Lavo
Born in Rome in 1938, he studied at the "T. Silvestri" Institute for Deaf in Rome.

He started his art career with drawings and graphic art works, then dedicating himself to creating ceramic masks and sculptures made of clay, chalk, wood, and other materials. Later, he turned to color, experimenting with tempera, watercolor and finally oil painting.

He has participated in numerous local and national shows, receiving various prizes. As a member of Associazione Silenziosa Italiana Scacchistica (deaf chess association), he has produced impressive graphic and watercoloring works for the European chess championship games.

He volunteers as a teacher of drawing and set design to deaf children at "T. Silvestri" Institute for Deaf in Rome. Incidentally, it is Sergio Lavo who created the logo for this website.

 [The painting is called 'Porta Pia: A Monument to the Deaf'. The watercolor depicts a bronze composition containing various hands, faces and arms, all expressing some sign or emotion. The overall effect resembles vaguely an overgrown bush.]

To see the painting better, click here.

Porta Pia: A Monument to the Deaf

The painting represents a monument to be situated in Piazza di Porta Pia (Porta Pia Plaza) in Rome, in front of a bar where deaf children, teenagers and adults often gather to chat. Porta Pia plaza is also within walking distance from the Istituto Statale per Sordomuti on Via Nomentana.

It is a place that is a "synthesis" of life, where one studies and learns, where one communicates with others, where one can enjoy social life, love and one's very first hopes and dreams. The monument itself depicts the crushing of Porta Pia, and evokes school memories when one studied the Risorgimento, times of courage and rich in fantasy and love.

This place and this monument become thus the symbol of the liberation of sign language, which finally reaches great heights, free-spirited and proud.

 [Some details of S. Lavo's painting]

  1. the conquests the artist has reached by being deaf

  2. the discovery of composition as a creative element

  3. the sign for water, the main life source.

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