I was born deaf in New York City and after spending my childhood and youth at the Wright Oral School and the Washington Irving High School, both in Manhattan, I was admitted to the Pratt Institute on the strength of my sketches. I was influenced by my mother, who was a painter herself; in my childhood I often watched her paint. Another influence was that of my father, who was a textile pattern and print designer. I moved to the Washington D.C., Metropolitan Area upon marrying Dr. Eugene Bergman, then a professor of English at Gallaudet College. After my children grew up, I decided to resume painting by attending the “Torpedo Factory,” the Art League of Alexandria, Virginia. Recently my artistic interests have extended to sculpture.
DESCRIPTION OF WORK:
The purpose of the portraitist is to reproduce the uniqueness and dignity of the individual, the depth of feeling that varies from one person to another, and character, though without embellishment. To this end, it is not enough to paint just the face and the upper half of the body. The entire figure must also be shown to create a feeling of wholeness and completion, so that it ma be imbued with an inner life of its own.
The paint is neither slapped on nor stabbed into the canvas, but spread with rapid sweeping strokes. For life to be breathed into the portrait, harmony and balance are stressed, rather than garishness and inner torment. The particular matching combinations of the colors used – oranges, reds, yellows, and hydrangea greens – reflect the splendor of life and imprint the subtle mystery of the human personality on the canvas. In both the canvas sketches and the pen-and-ink portraits fluidity and continuity are achieved, and a particular mood is spotlighted, by drawing the figures in a single, unbroken, spontaneous line. The idea is to evoke a particular mood in the observer, to establish lasting rapport between the picture and the observer.
In my portraits and sculptures I give special prominence to eyes, since the world is absorbed through them when a person is deaf. The subjects of my portraits have eyes to see because they are trying to lip-read or otherwise guess what people are saying. I am a lip-reader and eyes are very important to me.