In Guest article

Meet Olivia Castro Cranwell, an Argentinian and French artist. She is one of the four artists who designed our limited-edition audio processor covers. In this blog, Olivia explains how she became an artist against all odds, the effect of her hearing journey, and how nature inspired her to create a colorful and unique design cover masterpiece.

My name is Olivia, I work as an artist in Buenos Aires, and I have dedicated my life to painting. I also teach painting, illustrating, drawing, and everything related to visual art. I find the inspiration for my art in nature and music.

Single-Sided-Deafness Caused by Otosclerosis

I have a genetic disease called otosclerosis. When I was a child, my mother and teachers often said I was distracted, even though I was a good student. My mother always wondered what was wrong with me and why I wasn’t more attentive. Then, one day when I was 14 years old, a teacher suggested taking me to an ENT doctor to get my hearing checked.

That’s how my parents found out that I couldn’t hear in one ear. No one could tell us how long this had been going on. Although, the doctors suspected that my hearing loss had been there for a while because, during an operation, they saw that things were very calcified. From that point on, I began to lose the hearing in my other ear as well.

15 Years Without Music

By the time I was 20, I couldn’t hear anything at all. For many years I wore hearing aids in one ear. I always had to get stronger hearing aids until there wasn’t a stronger one left to try. The decision to have surgery for an implant was very difficult for me. By then, I had spent 15 years without hearing music, and I could barely understand when someone was talking to me.

The Incident That Changed My Life

I only got my hearing implants when I was 50, even though my doctors had told me about the advantages of a cochlear implant (CI) for a long time. The reason for the delay was my fear of the surgery.

I changed my mind after an incident when I got water in my ear and wasn’t even able to use my hearing aids anymore. Even though the complete silence was very difficult, this incident changed my life. I met with an ENT specialist that I trusted and decided to get my CI.

Olivia with her CI

The Miracle of Hearing

Today, I wonder what would have happened if I had received implants at a young age. My life would have been easier. Since my implantation, I couldn’t be happier. Coming from a world of complete silence, every sound I can hear gives me great joy.

This was also the impetus for my blog and through it, I was able to share my joy with many people. People from all over the world wrote to me because they also dared to get their CIs. For me, experiencing the miracle of being able to hear again felt like a rebirth.

My History as an Artist

Olivia

At a very young age, I visited Paris and discovered my love for art, especially painting. Unfortunately, my father forbade me to devote myself to or study art. Instead, I had to study architecture. However, my deafness prevented me from finishing my studies. My situation was also difficult because my family didn’t accept my deafness or try to help me at that time. Since I had trouble understanding my professors and felt very lonely with my hearing issues, I decided to stop studying and travel the world.

During my travels, I taught myself to paint. At first, I painted small paintings with watercolors that I then sold. One day, I got an invitation to exhibit my art at Casa Franca in Brazil. From that point on, I began to work as a professional. In 2007, I learned more about painting techniques in a studio in Buenos Aires. I particularly learned about acrylic painting—which is what I work with most now.

The Meaning Behind My Design Cover

With my design cover, I wanted to show what sound means to me. I consider sound to be something very abstract. Nature, and especially birds, inspired me. Nature is full of sound, and the chirping of birds was the first thing I heard after my activation.

With my design, I wanted to send the message of the joy of sound. I hoped to convey this through the colors, variety of plants, movement, contrast of green and orange, and the little chirping bird. For me, sound connects you to life, yourself, and other people.

Olivia's Design Cover

Music as Artistic Inspiration

I have always listened to music while working. After I lost my hearing completely at the age of 15, working without music was very difficult for me. With the implant, I am able to listen to music again. I like to listen to Brazilian music, jazz, and bossa nova. This kind of music is the inspiration for my art.

My art always has a message. The colors in my paintings convey feelings like joy, sadness, darkness, and enlightenment. Music helps me express these feelings in my art and trigger emotions in my audience.

Art as an Act of Giving

It is an overwhelmingly beautiful feeling to know that other CI users will wear my design cover on their audio processors. I am very happy that I can share my art with others. At the end of the day, that’s what art is: an act of giving and of sharing. If you paint a painting and don’t share it, there is no point in it.

Social media helps us artists reach more people and share art with others. Social networks have brought us together and reduced distances. Also, there is content in so many languages nowadays, which is why it is accessible to so many more people.

Expressing Yourself Through Art

I believe that art can help you overcome problems. Being unable to express something limits your communication, and that’s exactly what hearing loss does. Since we are social beings, this leads to many problems, especially psychological ones.

But through art, you can express yourself. And that’s why there’s something very healing about it. You can show on the outside what you feel inside. You send out a message and show yourself. We should never let ourselves be pushed into isolation, but that is exactly what deafness does. Art is one way to defeat that isolation.

 

Thank you, Olivia!

Do you want to take part in our latest design cover competition and win a set of our four artist covers? Then check out our latest Instagram and Facebook posts for more information.


Subscribe to the MED-EL Blog

Want to make sure you get all the latest articles from the MED-EL Blog? Subscribe now!

The content on this website is for general informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. Please contact your doctor or hearing specialist to learn what type of hearing solution is suitable for your specific needs. Not all products, features, or indications shown are approved in all countries.

Comments

comments

Recommended Posts