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On February 18, 2016, Dr. Paul Johnston, professor of the Art, Communication and Theatre Department, debuted 64 new pieces of abstract paintings, revealed for the campus community to see at the Linda K. Jordan Gallery in the Washburn Arts building.

As explained in the exhibit’s introduction display, “The abstract paintings in this exhibition symbolize Johnston’s visual interpretation of the power of music. Much as a composer weaves together melodies, rhythms and harmonies, these works come together in an orchestral performance that resonates with emotional intensity.”

“The paintings reflect my inspiration from music and from my travels in Italy. It meant a great deal that people from the Gallaudet community came to the opening reception,” said Johnston.

Johnston has taught for 32 years at Gallaudet and has been a member of the art department since 1988. He is a founding member of De’VIA (Deaf View Image Art). This group of artists and scholars collaborate on how to discuss and generate art based on deaf experiences.

“Since we are a visual community, this exhibition provides an avenue to celebrate artistic expression. The works expose students to the power of art and how to create meaning and value in an entirely different language, which has no barriers, and attracts people from all walks of life, providing a shared experience that serves to strengthen all who participate.”

Rhiannon Le Lievre, a student assistant who helped oversee the exhibit opening, shared her observations of the exhibit.

“I think the public responded with a curious eye. Many seemed attracted to the texture and colors in his works. Some people liked the bright merry colors, others the murkier layers; some were drawn to the line patterns, others liked finding symbols in the abstract shapes, and others still were curious about the titles of the works and their relation to music. The nice thing about abstract art is that it’s open to multiple interpretations,” said Le Lievre.

“The artwork was so colorful and relaxing. I was inspired by Paul’s artwork,” said ASL teacher Robin Massey, ’90.

Professor Amy Stevens, who helped coordinate the event, said, “Learning opportunities were opened for all Gallaudet constituents including students, potential students, parents, faculty, staff, alumni and our surrounding neighbors, from this exhibit.”

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