By Mary Therese Biebel - email@example.com
That artist, Kiswendsida Serge Doamba from the West African country of Senegal, couldn’t hear Sensbach talk about “slurry” or explain that mix of water and clay would help two pieces of clay stick together.
But Doamba, 25, who has been deaf since childhood, was able to observe and imitate.
Soon he will be back in Senegal, where he is on the staff of E’cole Renaissance des Sourds, a school for children who are deaf.
The children there are extremely eager to learn about art, said Susan Roese of Lehman who, with her daughter Tiffany, is hosting Doamba on his local visit.
Roese, a retired elementary school art teacher, spent time at E’cole Renaissance des Sourds in 2013 and 2014 because her former college roommate, Angel Bednarcyzk from Takoma Park, Maryland, was helping to develop the school’s curriculum.
Bednarczyk, a deaf educator who taught at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., for 25 years, had told her friend, “You’ve got to come over here and help get (art classes) started,” Roese said. “I was thrilled to say yes.”
Roese got the children working with color pencils, watercolors, print making, clay, cutting and pasting and collages.
“They were so enthusiastic, they never wanted to stop,” she said. “They wanted to sneak in on the days when it wasn’t their turn.”
Doamba never had a formal art lesson, Roese said, but his natural talent for painting gourds led to him becoming an art teacher at E’cole Renaissance des Sourds. She and Bednarcyzk arranged his visit to the United States, where he has observed techniques from Sensbach and other local artists, including Sue Hand for painting, Gwen Harleman for mixed media and Betsy Fulton for print making.
“Everyone has been wonderful to him,” Roese said.
On a recent Wednesday in Sensbach’s studio, several individuals were working on clay art. But another kind of art was going on, too, as Anna Kammen of Stroudsburg offered to translate for Doamba.
Kammen, who holds degrees in linguistics and deaf education, accompanied her mother, Ellen Greenberg of Shavertown, to the non-credit clay class becasuse she had heard the deaf artist would be there.
With her hands and Doamba’s hands flying through the air, Kammen signed a reporter’s questions to the visiting artist and translated his replies into English.
The students at his school range in age from 3 to 20, she related, and Doamba lost his own hearing at a young age.
“When I was 3 years old I was able to walk,” she translated. “Then I became sick. I couldn’t walk. I would fall over.”
The disease settled in his ears, Doamba said, and though he regained his ability to walk, he was never able to hear.
The children at his school want to express themselves through art, Doamba said, and he will be happy to help them do it.
“I feel so inspired,” he said through the translator.
And, how does he like the United States in general?
“The weather is cold, but I like America very much.”
Deaf artist Kiswendsida Serge Doamba, 25, of the west African nation of Senegal, uses American Sign Language to describe his experience to an interpreter.
Deaf artist Kiswendsida Serge Doamba of Senegal, left, works in the Misericordia University art studios in Dallas during a non-credit class for adults taught by Skip Sensbach.
Misericordia artist-in-residence Skip Sensbach, right, assists Kiswendsida Serge Doamba of Senegal in working with a slab of clay.