When Spectrum owner Star Sosa attended 2015’s The CARE Project Gala in September, instantly, she was inspired by the story of one of the families involved with CARE. Founded by Johnnie Sexton in Wilmington, the nonprofit works with children and their families who are dealing with hearing challenges. Sexton and his staff provide counseling services and tools, as well as host retreats, for families to garner support in rearing deaf or hard-of-hearing children.
“A father shared his gratitude as he watched his young children dancing to the band [at the gala,]” Sosa tells of Tom Ferguson. “Both [children were] born with hearing loss and he shared that his lifetime love of music went sour knowing they would be deprived of that experience.”
However, once the children received cochlear implants, a whole different world opened up to them. Their parents entered into new firsts as well, including listening to music. The Fergusons will share their story in support of The CARE Project at the opening of Spectrum’s new exhibit this Thurs., Mar. 3. Titled “Interlude,” Sosa devised it as a fundraising exhibit, with proceeds benefitting CARE’s mission.
“[We] always put funds raised, first and foremost, toward direct retreat services for families,” Sexton tells. “That will be the case from the Spectrum show.”
Sosa began working with Sexton and CARE after one of her gallery’s employees—a former teacher who worked with deaf and hard-of-hearing children—served on CARE’s board. “Interlude” seemed a perfect fit for 2016’s lineup of innovative shows. More so, its definition as an interval or pause between two things seemed fitting.
“A rest, breathing space, as it were,” Sosa continues to define. “My response to Tom’s story was to consider using art as a way to express the relationship between visual and music, as well as the relationship between silence and sound.”
Eleven artists will be participating in “Interlude,” including Anne Cunningham, Ann Hair, Gale Smith, Jane Faudree, Joanne Geisel, Jodie Wrenn Rippy, Kristin Gibson, Michael Van Hout, Nancy Noel May, Phil Meade, and Todd Carignan. The artists were instructed to interpret sound and vision, so to speak. Paintings, mixed-media and sculptures will be showcased.
“One of our artists went as far as representing the correlation between the chakras in the human energy body, their colors and musical notes,” Sosa explains.
Sosa says a varied mix of work represents everything from literal iterations to abstract forays. Gale Smith’s “Hey Now What’s That Sound” contains color that looks as if it sounds bold (see encore’s cover art). “Gale interpreted what music must look like for someone who can’t hear with a visual representation of soundwaves,” Sosa says.
Local artist Kristin Gibson, known for her work in painting and textiles, took the assignment from a personal space of influence. A graduate from ECU’s School of Art in 1990, she turned in a 30-by-30 still-life on canvas, which includes acrylic paint and layers of collage work.
“My son played the trumpet throughout middle school [and] had the opportunity to learn under a fantastic director/teacherMr. David Tyson, who is currently pursuing his graduate studies in music at ECU,” Gibson tells. “My son was part of his jazz band at the school, and anyone who heard this ensemble knew what a treasure it was, and that these kids were making even more than music. The jazz band was the interlude before the concert band began.”
Gibson connected to the idea of interludes containing moments of space and time, allowing a place for change to take place. Thus, her piece is representative of changes her own family has experienced over the past few years. Yet, it connects to CARE, too.
“Perhaps I’m behind the door where the easel stands, the trumpet, torn fragments of music from a last concert, a symbolic bowl of fruit, white flowers of hope,” she explains of her piece, titled “Harmony.” “The CARE Project is itself a space for hope, a place for sharing a difficult life journey.”
Proceeds from the event will benefit CARE in a multitude of ways. Not only will partial proceeds from artwork sold on opening night go toward the nonprofit, but Sosa is raffling two pieces of work, with all proceeds from the raffle benefitting CARE. Local artists Justine Ferreri and Michael Van Hout are devising the pieces.
Sosa also has ordered a slew of fossil ammonites—ancient spiral sea shells. Visually, they look quite similar to the cochlea of the inner ear. “I recently purchased a collection of these fossils at the Tucson Gem Show and will be giving half of the proceeds from those sales to The CARE Project,” she says.
CARE leaders will be present at the opening of the show to interact and educate folks on their outreach. In 2016 CARE is planning more partnerships with NC and out-of-state agencies. They will continue strengthening their focus on emotionally supporting families and children with hearing challenges. Already, Sexton’s established working with Beginnings for Parents of Children Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. on a grant proposal to fund 10 one-day family retreats across NC.
“This is an effort to reach more and more families in need,” he says. “We will continue to host weekend family retreats in 2016, and this year there will be more offered in more locations around NC.”
The CARE Project’s annual gala is scheduled for September 24, 2016, in downtown Wilmington at CFCC’s Union Station. “Interlude” will open at Spectrum Art & Jewelry on Mar. 3 and will hang through mid-April.