Myron: My mother and father were deaf. Born hearing, I was their first child. My first language was sign language, a language not of speech but of signs made with the hands, supplemented by the grammar of the face and body. From the earliest age, I felt no space existed between me and my mother and father. But at an early age my father asked me to be his ears and voice in the world of sound: my world, but a world as foreign to him as the moon was to me. With this request I stopped being a child, and overnight was forced to confront my parents’ world—a world of absolute silence.
This period of my life—being my father’s ears and voice—opened the door to the world of the deaf, the world of eternal silence. That experience made me the young man I was to become, and the man I am today. One day, long after they had died, I felt compelled to write about my parents’ world, a world unseen (deafness is not visible) where communication and understanding takes many different forms.
Being a big fan of Brooklyn, where I lived for most of my life, the opening two pieces—the scene overlooking the Brooklyn Bridge in the morning and the painting of the family catching the trolley with Ebbets Field in the background—were enjoyable to create. They were also the first two images completed, which brought the project from a purely conceptual state into tangible reality and that’s always an exciting moment. I also really enjoyed painting the crowded Boardwalk scene. Who cannot be happy while thinking about Coney Island?
I was a little concerned with the Chinese restaurant interior before tackling that piece but it turned out to be a nice change of pace from the exteriors and one of my favorite paintings. My hope is that readers of the book will have their own preferences and each painting will be somebody’s favorite image.
Myron: I wrote The Sound of All Thingsto bring to the attention of hearing children (and their parents and educators) the world of the Deaf—a world of silence, in plain sight, but invisible, among the larger world of ceaseless sound.
In doing so, I hoped to generate both thought and discussion about the means of communication used in both worlds—aural speech for the hearing, Sign Language for the Deaf—and the power that one’s language has in the development of one’s perception and accommodation to the world one lives in.
The Sound Of All Things, as well as some of my previous books, attempts to shine a light on the Deaf world—from the fact of its very existence, to the challenges it presents to its inhabitants, and on to its common language. Communication for the Deaf is a most human language of the hands, the face and the body—a language of signs, gestures, and expressions as visually beautiful and expressive as a spoken Shakespearean play.
Ultimately, my story is a celebration of the beautiful ways in which all of humanity coexists in this shared beautiful world we all live in, bound by the cords of familial love and the common language used to express that love.