Uzi Buzgalo is a Deaf Israeli artist who now lives in Colorado with his Deaf wife, Ann Marie Baer, and two Deaf sons. (UPDATE: since the writing of this entry – Uzi and family have moved to Israel) I will admit i fell in love with both of their children during the family’s visit to NTID/RIT this fall – they totally stole me heart – smart, precocious, and sweet. The total embodiment of multilingualism-multiculturalism at work. Truly Uzi and Ann Marie’s greatest master pieces – these two young boys.
[To see Uzi’s art – visit his online gallery]
But i shall return me focus to Uzi’s paintings – they are amazing and run the gamut from abstract pieces to representational work of Deaf ancestors. Uzi does a masterful job of incorporating brilliant colors, composition, motifs and themes to celebrate Deaf culture, natural sign languages, Deaf heritage, sexuality, diversity, and Judaism while also examining audism, linguicism, eugenics, war and more. In a nutshell – he offers a feast for the eyes and the heart and the soul. Resistance art to affirmation art in our never ending effort to make the invisible visible. All of this greatness enshrined within his signature, hand made, one of a kind framing.
As like many other artists – Uzi’s works can be categorized by different phases, themes, or color palettes. He has many outstanding works affirming his country of origin, Israel, his religion, Judaism, and his people. He has several works signifying the 6 Day war that use the motif of a singular candle with his abstraction that represents signing hands carefully, cautiously signing in the dark bomb shelter at the Deaf school so as to not extinguish the flames with their rapid motion. One work is a chair (see video below) with the candle and hand motifs with the backing being the metal framing like the gate at the Deaf school with blue tape over the glass just as they had to tape up all the windows before going underground to prevent the windows from imploding and shattering all over the classrooms.
In addition,to works exploring his Jewish Israeli heritage and identity, he also has a variety of works examining the power and importance and oppression of natural sign language. His series about the Flower of a Language can appear to be whimsical and aesthetically pleasing but upon further inspection, you can often find a pair of scissors or some telling marker to indicate that natural sign languages do not exist in complete acceptance and freedom; yet, still their beauty and naturalness supersedes all threats.
Uzi does not only create abstract or Picasoesque type works, he does have a series of more representational works via his portraits of famous Deaf people incorporating symbols that exemplify their contributions to the world. My favorite of the bunch is George Veditz. Surprise, surprise! Smile. (see video below)
This work now frames the window in my office so that Veditz greets me every work day and anyone else who happens down my hallway. He is big and bright and beautiful and i thank you Uzi for creating this work.
On a personal note – I truly enjoyed getting to know Uzi and his family. Anne Marie Baer gave a stellar presentation about ASL instruction, curriculum and material development at NTID and Uzi presented about his background, involvement in a very unique Deaf Israeli dance / movement company, as well as his life and work as an artist. He even shared how he severed part of his finger tips using an old saw while making a frame and how he had to make reasonable accommodations with his various art tools and re-train himself as a painter (and also as a signer) to adjust to this difference in the length of his digits.
Most especially what comes through when interacting with Uzi is his great world knowledge, his love of his homeland, religion, languages, Deaf culture, A-R-T and his family. If you ever get yourself a chance to buy one of Uzi’s works – i would totally grab it. It is an investment in Uzi, his craft, Deaf artists, Deaf View / Image Art (De’VIA), Deaf culture, and you, yourself. We deserve to surround ourselves with things of value to show our own values.
thank you Uzi for all you create