Sue Jo Wright is a Deaf photographer who was an artist-in-residence at Bundanon Trust in 2017. Given that artists might be thinking about applying for a 2018 residency, we thought this might be a great time to ask Sue Jo to reflect on her experiences at Bundanon and beyond.
AArts: Where were you at in your career when the Bundanon residency came your way?
Sue Jo: I was working part time at a not-for-profit organisation as well as being a freelance photographer. I was also looking after SDHP (Sydney Deaf and Hard of Hearing Photographers group).
How did the physical environment of the Bundanon property contribute to your residency experience?
The Bundanon property gave me an opportunity to be ‘myself.’ It was a time to relax and reflect. I was finding my way around questions like: who am I as artist, what is my purpose and who are the most important people in my life. I found myself connected again.
What was the focus of your arts practice when you were at Bundanon?
I was focusing on my personal photography project called “Refuge from the grinding frustrations of the hearing world.” This photography project is about finding my deaf identify and sense of belonging in the hearing world where I experienced lower self-esteem and embarrassment. My project focused on exploring these views:
- Medical view: lipreading, speech therapy, ear surgery, hearing aids
- Social view: society seeing deaf people as disabled due to lack of awareness, pressure to conform to expectations and the societal ‘norm’
- Cultural view: sign language, ‘more vision, less words’
How did the Bundanon experience affect the way you moved ahead with your arts practice?
During Bundanon, I was inspired and guided by mentors regarding my photography project. I learned how to plan well in terms of structure and feedback. I learned better ways of working which meant I was able to move forward with my strategy plan. Also, I will use what I learned from this experience to support other arts projects in the future.
Where are you at now with your photographic career?
Since my Bundanon experience, I have become more confident with my project which stimulates ideas and possibilities. I am continuing to explore and am finding new ideas and getting feedback. I have also gained more photography work with both organisations and individual customers.
There is more about Sue Jo and Bundanon in this article in The Daily Telegraph.
Is the 2018 Artist-in-Residence program for you?
The Accessible Arts and Bundanon Trust Artist-in-Residence program is currently accepting applications for 2018 (deadline is 13 June). If you would like to learn more, visit here.
Image: Sue Jo Wright by Amy Wright
This page was first published on 8 May 2018