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Sensory Perception: an exhibition of mosaics by Sacramento deafblind artist Mary Dignan

Sensory Perception: an exhibition of mosaics by Sacramento deafblind artist Mary Dignan, opens at the SMUD Art Gallery, 6301 S Street, Sacramento on Monday, March 4, 2013. The public is invited to meet the artist and view her work at a FREE opening reception on Friday, March 1, 2013, from 4 to 6 p.m.

The exhibition showcases over 30 ceramic tile and mixed media art mosaics created by deafblind artist Mary Dignan. The mosaics offer an insight into the unique perspective of an artist with Usher Syndrome, a genetic disorder which is the leading cause of deafblindness.

Dignan’s mosaics bring onlookers into the fantastical world of her own metamorphosis, as she navigates through what it is to lose two of her senses, while exploring the sense of touch.

Mary Dignan was born with severe hearing loss, but her deafness was not diagnosed until she was almost 5 years old, after she had been diagnosed as mentally retarded. Eventually she would learn that she had Usher Syndrome, Type 2, which is characterized by moderate to severe deafness at birth, and blindness from retinitis pigmentosa (RP) later in life.

She earned her undergraduate degree from Santa Clara University in 1976, and embarked upon a career that included newspaper reporting, legislative work for the U.S. House of Representatives and the California State Assembly Committee on Agriculture, public relations and governmental liaison work with one of California’s largest and most complex water agencies, and her own consulting business in water and natural resources management policy. In 1990, a year after she was certified legally blind with a restricted visual field of 8 degrees (a normal visual field is 180-150 degrees), she started law school. In 1994, she earned her juris doctorate with honors from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, was admitted to the California State Bar, and began practicing water and natural resources law with the Sacramento firm of Kronick, Moskovitz, Tiedemann & Girard. In 1997, she discovered she had a brain tumor and underwent surgery to remove it. The tumor and the surgery exacerbated her vision and hearing losses, and she has not practiced law since.

She now practices art. Her ceramic tile and mixed media mosaic art works have been displayed in the California State Attorney General’s Office, Sacramento County Public Law Library, San Francisco City Hall, the Canadian Helen Keller Centre, and various local venues. In addition, her work has been featured at art shows sponsored by the Governor’s Commission on Employment of Persons with Disabilities. Folsom Lake College, and Spirit in the Arts.

Her community volunteer work includes six years on the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors’ Disability Advisory Committee. She helped found Spirit in the Arts, a working art studio and gallery open free of charge to the community in North Sacramento, and is a past board member of Bread of Life, the parent organization of Spirit in the Arts. She presently serves as president of the Sacramento chapter of Foundation Fighting Blindness.

The Art in Public Places Program was established by the City and County of Sacramento to provide visual art experiences in public locations. The SMUD Art Gallery is a partnership between the Sacramento Municipal Utility District and the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission.

The Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission is devoted to supporting, promoting and advocating for the arts in the region. For further information on programs and opportunities through the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission go to: www.sacmetroarts.org. SMAC is funded by the City and County of Sacramento.

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