from WFDNews  Vol. 13  No. 02

Ms Nadia Filipova has distinguished herself as one of the most accomplished Deaf artists in eastern Europe and Scandinavia.

Born in 1958 in Sofia, Bulgaria, to Deaf parents, she says that from an early age she was presented with constant visual stimulation. “My uncle was an architect and I was fascinated by the tools he used in his work,” she comments. “My mother always encouraged my interest in art and provided me with the information and resources to stimulate my creativity.”

From the age of 3, Ms Filipova attended a private school where she was the only Deaf child, with no sign language interpreter present. Afternoons were spent at home with a speech therapist. She says, however, that her school encouraged her interest in art. “I did not become active in the Deaf community until I was 15, and I did not sign very well before then, either,” she says. At 15, she began socializing with other Deaf people in coffee houses. Around this time, she also made the move to a Deaf school where she was placed in a class of hard-of-hearing children. “I advanced two grades and was the youngest in my class,” she says.

In her early 20s, she escaped to Austria from Bulgaria, which was then part of the Communist bloc, on a bus full of tourists, and after six months journeyed onward to Norway. She remained in Norway for ten years, and her artwork was often on display in Deaf centres and in the Bulgarian embassy in Oslo.

For the past eight years, Ms Filipova has lived in Stockholm, Sweden. Her two Deaf children attend school close by. To support herself, Ms Filipova has worked at an assortment of jobs while continuing with her art, including projects for the Swedish Deaf association, Sveriges Dovas Riksfbrbund (SDR), and at the Deaf club. She prefers that her work be art-related, as when she recently illustrated a sign language dictionary for SDR.

In her art, Ms Filipova portrays issues of the Deaf world, poverty, and childhood. Her message is one of hope for a better future and prosperity. “My art is inherently political in that it always seeks to reach politicians and other authority figures, to argue against the oppression of Deaf people,” she says.

Ms Filipova prefers the mediums of black and white illustration and watercolour. She uses a free technique for maximum creativity and has recently begun working with computer photography and graphics.