Being an adult, living an adult life, can sometimes be drab. Sometimes you need a parachute, an escape hatch. As a child, art was my happy place. When I took my place in the adult world, I didn’t even notice that my world had become grey. But while working at elementary school in Deaf Education, I finally picked up pencil again and started drawing. I was amazed that I hadn't lost touch with it. In that moment, art saved me.
I hated math. Math is the least of my least favorite subjects. But I was a teacher. I had to teach my Deaf children how to solve math problems. Lord, you have no idea how hard I struggled with third-grade math. So, I came up with my own idea of how to teach my students the best way I could. And, believe it or not, I did it with art. I drew it with shapes, animals, and people and came up with my own ideas through art. The students and I were finally on the same page. I then convert them back to writing in math problem. It was genius. That was my proudest moment. Ever.
In the year of 1984, I came into this world of trillions of wonders and endless adventures. I became deaf at the age of seven months with meningitis. My mother felt that I would be isolated away from the hearing world because I could not hear. She would do anything to improve my hearing. But my mother already had a deaf sister who was doing just fine being deaf so she realized I would be too. To this day, I’ve never figured out how I could naturally escape to another world, a world of artsy fartsy, whenever the chaos came. But I can.
Growing up, my mother would shield me from the crazy world. She raised me to be a good boy and to follow through and through. But, the world that my mother created for me was corrupted by darkness. I tasted hell when I was being bullied. I hid it so well, and I wouldn't tell my mother about it. Teachers started to notice my behavior changes throughout the course. That is when my mother had to sit down and have the talk with me. I thought I was in a deep hole of trouble. I did not like to have this talk with people about it. I had gone through countless therapy sessions with a counselor. But they were never effective until I took this art class.
This wonderful art teacher gave me my very first coloring pencil and told me to draw with what he set on the table. From that moment on, my world was born - a world different from the one my mother tried to create, one of my own choosing. I had discovered love at first sight by drawing when I was eight years old. My mother was so proud of my work, and she would brag to by posting on the refrigerator for everyone to see. She wanted me to know that I have a gift and to share with the world. I was at peace again.
I continued to draw throughout the years whenever chaos came. In 2001, Spring Break with my sister, cousins, and grandmother was to be first trip without my mother. Before leaving, my mother handed me my very first disposable camera . She said this to me, “Life is precious. So take as many pictures as you can because you will want to cherish everything”. I did not know how to use the disposable camera properly. But I took so many pictures that I ran out of room. I begged my grandmother to take me to the store to buy me another. But then “another” became three cameras.
When I came home from Spring Break, I handed my mother the cameras.. She l took me to the Eckerd’s store to develop my very first pictures. I anxiously waited to see it develop. It blew me and my family away. And when my mom asked how I did this, I explained that I wanted to capture everything with
meaning. I was basically in my own world. I saw some art that I liked and I just wanted to share it through my eyes. When I looked through the lens, I got lost in my own world. I was feeling free. It was almost like I was drawing the pictures with my eyes. My mother was baffled by what I was trying to explain. She said, you cannot draw it with your eyes. You just have a good vision. I was like no I seriously drew it with my eyes and that is how it came out. She still did not understand, and in fact, she is no artist herself like me. She doesn't have the creative mind like I do.
When my cousin gave me her second-hand digital camera, my new story began. During college, I was struggling with my health and couldn't focus on anything but one class — Sculpture. Again, I lost myself in my own world of art. Here, I was not aware of my surroundings or my health condition. It was like I was dispatched from my own body into a new body like in the movie, Avatar. But eventually, my physical body won. My health situation grew worse, and I had to focus on nursing myself back to normal and recovering me again. Throughout those years, I lost touch with my art. I no longer escaped to my artsy fartsy world. The adult world had claimed me.
But something keeps drawing me back. Art keeps on saving me. Ten years ago, I decided to build a business of my own. I started — photography. Then, last year, I branched out into television work and became a XYZ. This year, my second season was supposed to come out. But Covid-19 and Black Lives Matter happened.
I was hiding in the corner, watching my dream drift away, slowly. I was overwhelmed being swept up with my job transitioning to working remotely from home. I was so close to my breaking point — to when I wanted to be done with the world. But my subconscious told me to get out my paintbrush and start painting again. So, I did. My anger lifted, and I ended up painting five pictures and selling one within a week of sharing it on social media.
Art is one of the only reliable sources I go to in times of stress. And when I’m in a bad situation, it’s my escape. So when COVID-19 threatened my art, my TV show, people encouraged me to pursue it again. I had to be creative. One day, I saw a small window of opportunity and thought to myself, I would love to share my vision with the world. So, I did it! I formed a team on short notice! It was a hit, and people saw my vision and why I did this show. It filled them with so much joy that they are asking to do this again next year. It also filled my heart knowing that I could share my passion and vision with them and deaf community. After releasing my trailer to the Deaf community, I have received several hundred views, and this keeps fueling my vision. This is now something that I and others continue to looking forward to during these pandemic times.
Art saved me again. This is how art keeps on saving us all.