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Taking a disability and making it her strength, how one TAFE NSW student is a beacon of inspiration for others

TAFE NSW St George

Taking a disability and making it her strength, how one TAFE NSW student is a beacon of inspiration for others

Sydney-based artist Sue Wright

The most recent census data reveals that more than 16,000 people use Auslan (Australian Sign Language) at home, more than ever before. In the lead-up to National Week of Deaf People, TAFE NSW student and artist Sue Jo Wright wants to raise awareness around the opportunities that come with studying the arts for the deaf and hard of hearing and how you can take a disability and make it your strength.

Sue is a Sydney-based artist working primarily with photography, video, and textiles which explore her identity as a Deaf person.

Sue grew up being torn between the ‘hearing world’ and the ‘deaf world,’ speaking orally at the beginning of her life and not using sign language until age 10.

After completing a Diploma of Visual Arts at TAFE St George in Fine Arts in 2019. She is making a name for herself in the art world, participating in group exhibitions and receiving grants to create more artwork.

In 2020 she was awarded the 2020 Australian Design Centre Award, Seed Stitch Contemporary Textile Awards (SSCTA), and was a finalist in the 2021 and 2020 Fisher's Ghost Art Award, Campbelltown Arts Centre and 2017 Maggie Diaz Photography Prize for Women.

“I was one of three recipients to be awarded a Residency at the Bundanon Trust in 2017, the first time Accessible Arts has worked with Bundanon Trust on a residency for Deaf and hard-of-hearing artists,” said Sue.

Communication has been a consistent barrier. However, studies helped her bridge various gaps with support from the Teacher Consultant in the Disability Unit at TAFE NSW.

“They provided Auslan interpreters and made other accommodations, especially when working on group projects, setting up exhibitions and communicating our needs and interests.

“The support from my TAFE NSW teachers has been crucial. They have always been helpful, thoughtful, and caring. They are not just teachers but also role models for me.

“Since I graduated from my studies, my career has been thriving, now that I work as a freelancer. I am working as Art Facilitator for Granville Centre Arts Gallery and as an Auslan and Creative Consultant for Emma Watkins on Emma Memma (previously known as Emma Wiggle from The Wiggles),” said Sue.

Sue has two works exhibiting right now. One in Airspace Projects till 18 September and the other at the Australian Design Centre until 28 September.

“The Australian Design Centre exhibition is a special moment because it is during the National Week of Deaf People”.

In the future, Sue aspires to have a studio and provide workshops and art activities for people of all ages, including the young Deaf generation.

“I always dream of a solo exhibition in prominent galleries, and I know I must work hard and make more art to share my stories”.

“Growing up, I didn't have a Deaf role model, especially anyone who was a Deaf artist, so I hope this helps the young Deaf generation to come out, embrace themselves, embrace art, and change the future”.

Head Teacher of Visual, Fine Arts & Ceramics at TAFE NSW St George Chris Casali said that in her time working in the arts, she has never seen such an inspirational and driven student as Sue.

“Sue has an incredible drive that is inspiring to see. Her work is outstanding. I look forward to following her career.
“We are thrilled to have her as one of our students. At TAFE NSW, we want to ensure students can graduate with the skills and confidence to thrive in the art world no matter what.
“If you love fine art, ceramics or art, in general, is a gratifying profession, and Sue is a shining example of what you can achieve,” said Chris.

Details about the exhibitions:


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Media contact: Callum Darby-Linfitt, TAFE NSW Communications Specialist, 02 7921 1823​​​​​​​