Lorraine Kaye Peters

Lorraine Kaye Peters is an artist, photographer, psychotherapist and teacher living in Fresno, California. Her artwork is inspired by her Armenian heritage, Christian faith and her life as a woman with a hearing impairment. Lorraine’s paintings are detailed “narratives of life.” Born with a severe hearing loss, she quickly developed a visual connection to her world, fostering her creativity and a growing inner life. She draws from ASL (American Sign Language), “Deaf talk,” Armenian language and icons, Christian and Catholic symbolism and pop culture to tell both a personal and universal story in her work. Raised in Fresno CA, the ancestral home of Armenians, she first studied Art as an undergraduate at Calif. State University, Fresno with artists in residence, Terry Allen and Judy Chicago.
Curious about her deafness, she put aside her art to explore this neglected part of herself. This led graduate work in counseling and a license as a Marriage Family Therapist. During her 25 years of work as a counselor, lecturer and art teacher of the deaf her art transformed into a narrative format. She considers Kerry James Marshall an influence in her style of narrative painting as well as Stewart Cubley of the Painting Experience for the deep work of process painting. Lorraine continues a full time studio practice, is involved in running Gallery 25, a co-op of artists, and is active in the revitalization of the art district in downtown Fresno.
We all have a story to tell. Every day, every moment our stories define us, complement us, embellish our egos, spread gossip, make connections and create communities. Lorraine’s paintings, simply put, tell a story; some true and some made up. Some whimsical and some existential. Lorraine’s work reflect her life and identity as a woman living with hearing loss in a hearing world and that of a second-generation Armenian born and raised in Fresno. A Licensed Marriage Family Therapist, art teacher for the deaf and conference speaker in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1985 she recently returned to Fresno in 2013. The Deaf Culture is strong on community and it’s members’ notorious storytellers.
They use ASL (American Sign Language) along with body language, facial expressions and nuances that produce a highly individualized visual picture that go beyond mere words. Often isolated due to communication challenges, it’s common for Deaf and hard of hearing to travel distances for all day gatherings, coming alive to recount the past and sharing stories; some factual, trivial, silly and/or serious. Armenians are also a Culture in itself with Fresno “the ancestral home.” They too gather for weddings, picnics, baptisms, using the occasion to show off their offspring, scout potential husbands for their daughters, gossip, share recipes, and last but not least, discuss family genealogy.
When beginning an idea, Lorraine begins with the female face and/or figure creating a form for which a story unfolds. Being a visual communicator and an observer of human behavior no doubt precedes this interest. Lorraine incorporates ASL/ “Deaf talk,” deaf vs. hearing perceptions, Armenian language and icons, Christian and Catholic symbolism and pop culture. These images resonant for her and find their way into the painting. Her work invites observers to create their own stories. In her own words: “as an artist and psychotherapist, I’m taken in by the mysterious hold creativity has on all of us. It remains a powerful process, a journey into the soul that for me simply means,“coming home.”

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