By Jean-Paul Salamanca, Newsday | Updated January 4, 2023 1:25 pm

This is a link to the Newsday article.

DeafBlind artist Tony Giordano led an adventurous life, traveling and playing sports, before completely losing his sight and hearing to diabetes in 2018.

“I was into everything. I loved adventures,” the Brooklyn native said during a Newsday interview on Tuesday, listing bike riding, snowboarding and basketball as some of the pastimes he had reveled in.

Giordano sat with two interpreters at the Helen Keller National Center in Port Washington, who helped him communicate using tactile sign language — where he grips someone’s hand to signal his questions and responses.

An auto mechanic by trade, Giordano, 58, agonized about what to do next after his sight and hearing losses. The North Carolina man moved into the center in November 2021 to relearn basic skills like mobility and orientation.

Being DeafBlind doesn’t necessarily mean someone is fully deaf and fully blind, but rather that the person has a combination of vision and hearing loss, according to the American Association of the Deafblind.

While reinventing his life, Giordano said getting into art was not something that crossed his mind — at first.

“I didn’t have any skills. I didn’t know anything about art,” Giordano added.

But after taking a creative arts class at the North Shore facility, Giordano began to discover he enjoyed it. Drawing on his nearly 30 years of experience as an auto mechanic, his welding skills and various spontaneous bursts of inspiration, Giordano began pouring himself into what’s become his specialty — designing metal sculptures.

More than a year later, Giordano now is getting recognition for his art pieces.

In December, Giordano made his first sale of a sculpture, a larger-than-life hand made of copper pipes and titled “I Love You,” to artist and collector Jennifer Contini for $1,000.

He also was the star of his debut gallery exhibit at Contini’s Loves Gallery in Southampton.

While proud of selling his first art piece, Giordano — who also repairs bicycles at a bike repair shop in St. James — admitted it made him a bit sad.

“I was hoping they’d let me keep it,” Giordano said, his eyes lighting up in amusement.

Antonia Isnardi, a senior instructor in creative arts at the center and Giordano’s art teacher, said it has been amazing to see his progress.

She recalled how she’s watched the DeafBlind artist measure individual pieces of metal with his hands before puncturing and drilling them.

“His work ethic is really incredible,” Isnardi told Newsday. “He could easily say ‘I lost my vision, I can’t do this’ … but he keeps fighting. He perseveres in everything and is willing to try something new to improve in any way.”

Giordano will leave the Port Washington center this year and return to his home in the South. But he said he considers art his next adventure and hopes his sculptures will be a way to spread a positive message about the capabilities of the deafblind community.

“I’d like to make sure that my art is seen by people,” Giordano said. “I want them to see that deafblind people can do anything.”

More about the artist

  • Tony Giordano holds a dozen welding certifications and spent about 30 years working on luxury cars in auto body shops
  • Giordano’s “I Love You” sculpture was inspired by a woman he met at the Helen Keller National Center and to whom he showed the American Sign Language sign for the words
  • Giordano is learning to take pictures so he can send photos of his artwork to his daughter, who lives abroad

Jean-Paul Salamanca covers the East End. He focuses on Riverhead, Southold and Greenport on the North Fork, as well as Hampton Bays, Westhampton Beach, Flanders, Riverside and Quogue on the South Fork.

This is a link to the Newsday article.

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