Olive Howden

In the Absence of Sound

Mentor: Bob Krut

Pure silence is not simply the absence of sound. It is the piercing memory of it, a raging void that howls with mimicries. Even when I cannot hear, my world is never fully quiet. “In the Absence of Sound” is a collection of creative short stories, poems, and vignettes centered around my experiences as a deaf individual with cochlear implants. My hearing is dependent on technology, but not even the most cutting-edge scientific advances can replace natural sound. I’ve lived my life not quite hearing the entire conversation, relying on lipreading and other aids to compensate where my hearing falls short. I plan to write ten pieces with accompanying illustrations portraying the experience of being deaf in an aural culture. The project will explore the struggle of being surrounded by conversation, while comprehension is just out of reach. It can be lonely to be caught between the hearing and deaf worlds, even as they cut and bleed into one another. But the deaf and hard-of-hearing community is vast, and more often I find myself encountering others with similar experiences. With the guidance of my advisor and peers, I hope to create art that is a glimpse into the hearing-impaired experience.