30th January 2024
Deaf students hone art skills at studio
Couple hope classes can lead to college, careers for disabled youth
Inside the 90-square-meter Cangxiao Studio in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, about 20 young students sit silently shoulder-to-shoulder as they paint.
Xu Weixiao, 39, and her husband Sun Xiaocang, 46, opened the studio for deaf children in 2015 in her father's home. The couple, both deaf, have helped 103 students enroll in college, giving them the chance to gain more opportunities for employment.
"I hope more friends like me can make their dreams come true and find a good job, so their parents won't need to worry about their life," Xu said, writing on paper.
Xu lost her hearing when she was about a year old because of a disease. Due to communication barriers, she was isolated at school. Most of the time, she preferred to be alone, immersed in drawing and doodling.
Her father, Xu Xiaoying, noted her artistic talent and sent her to learn how to paint at the Second Deaf School of Xi'an. After several years of effort, the young woman gained admission to the Special Education Arts School of the Xi'an Academy of Fine Arts, becoming a member of its first class.
At a gathering for disabled youth in 2006, Xu met Sun, who graduated from Changchun University in Jilin province and majored in art. They soon fell in love and got married.
In 2015, Xu encountered several deaf students who wanted to study art but couldn't find a suitable studio. Because most studios don't have sign language interpreters, their courses can be very difficult for deaf students to understand.
"I remembered a boy who had a great talent for painting, but because there were no suitable learning places and the fees to attend an ordinary art studio were too high for the family, he reluctantly returned to his hometown to work, with tears in his eyes. This image has stayed with me to this day," Xu Xiaoying said.
"Later, Weixiao told me that she wanted to open a studio so that children like her could learn to paint and fulfill their dreams of going to college. So, I cleared out a room in my own house and turned it into a studio."