This image of Dave Matthews is inspired by a video still frame I screen shot from the Listener Supported concert in 1999. Its meaningful to me as a Deaf and Hard of Hearing person. First and foremost, I have reached a point in my life where hearing aids no longer can produce a consistent level of following the “synthetic world of sound” as they used to for many years. My hearing loss is degenerative and nerve related, over time hearing aid amplification no longer works. I have known this forever, but the effects of it have really set in over the last 3 years. I notice it in many areas of my life, but the most in “how” I used to be able to listen to music with headphones on and my hearing aids in. The awareness of this contrast is very present. I can no longer experience “hearing” music the same way. Melodies are fragmented and multiple instruments no longer layer harmoniously but fuse into distortions that phase in and out or up and down like a visual equalizer. But then again, I was only “hearing” music via hearing aids, so I’m not sure if what I was hearing in the past was ever absorbed the way the artist or production engineers intended. LOL. (Everything sounds hollow and metal-like) But I know what I can FEEL from the vibrations of the music. Vibrations carry information, especially the emotions of the music, the artist and band as a whole.

I am going to write more about this process but want to stick to the point about Dave Matthews and his music. Love him or not, Dave Matthews is a unique artist, guitar player and song writer. He is a self-taught artist who developed an unconventional way of playing the guitar. From his hand shapes and fretting on the neck to his chord hybrid combinations and wide finger stretches, I always loved watching him play. His strumming hand acted very percussively on the strings and for my specific type of hearing loss this style of playing helped me follow the melodies because I could watch how the strumming patterns hit the strings so rhythmically. The sound and visuals were in harmony. These stylistic combinations made it accessible for me to follow and enjoy, for a long time. I’m super grateful for this, and how the emotional qualities of the music have created powerful memories and emotions inside of me. I guess my brain likes this, making it easy to feel and access those memories just by watching and or daydreaming about.

This illustration and subtle animation, is a tribute to good times and many memories. Even though I can’t hear it the same way, I can always feel it and transcend the emotions into something new, like visual art.

In my illustration and GIF Dave is playing the song #41 from the Listener Supported live concert – you can find it on youtube here.

Thanks Dave.