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Artists Featured in Book

Helene Valdez

Photo of Helene Valdez

People often think Helene Valdez is deaf because she uses sign language to communicate. Conversations with her are a bit like a game of charades using a mixture of descriptive signs, gestures and written words. Helene has cerebral palsy and cannot speak.

Helene's responses to the following interview questions about her experiences in VSA arts New Mexico's writing programs reveal her strong personality, poignant skills of observation and considerable power with written communication. She also paints and writes poetry. The questions were raised by Anne Zollinger, an instructor at VSA arts New Mexico.

Below, Anna Zollinger of VSA arts New Mexico, interviews Helene Valdez about her thoughts on participating in the arts and the impact it has had on her life.

Q: What did you think of your poems?
"Joy Great"

Q: What do you like to write about?
"World I see...Romance in things all."

Q: Since starting at VSA arts, do you sense that others perceive you differently?
"CP first always people meet see"...(but) ...people talk, know me...good."

Q: How is your life different now that you're an apprentice artist at VSA New Mexico?
"Here friends... understand... learn galleries, shows... be out in world...angry if paople say I no can art do."

Q: ... What are the biggest challenges you face each day?
"Understand not...doctors, people, others...try not understand me...pain stop not...people treat like baby little...not real person...try help too much...angry...feel people talk not to me...I like not that."

Q: How does your artistic expression help with those challenges?
"People buy art...Take serious me."
(Anna said that Helene laughed when they talked about this questions, and she signed the word for money.)