Brush with hearing loss inspires young artist’s vision to help others
WESTPORT — A young artist appealed to people’s sense of sight at his first solo art show Saturday to raise funding for research to cure hearing loss.
Alex Mussomeli, 11, a student at Long Lots School, who uses a Cochlear implant in one ear and a hearing aid in the other, sold 51 of the 54 acrylic paintings he displayed in the show, titled, “The Wonder of Art Exploration!” It raised approximately $16,000 for the New York City-based Hearing Health Foundation. According to the HHF website, it is the largest non-profit funder of hearing research and its aim is “to prevent and cure hearing loss and tinnitus through groundbreaking research and to promote hearing health.”
“Our mission is to fund research through a consortium of scientists to find a cure for hearing loss. We have a Hearing Restoration Project,” said Roger Harris of New Canaan, an HHF board member, who attended Alex’s art exhibit at the Fairfield County Hunt Club.
Harris said Alex is “a very gifted young man,” and he is impressed with the boy’s philanthropic efforts. “It was his idea to have this show. To have someone at his age be so socially aware is really amazing.”
“This is my first time exhibiting. It feels pretty special and exciting,” said Alex, who worked for a year to produce his colorful paintings, prints and notecards, many of them with floral and spring themes: “Enchanted Flowers,” “The Tulip Playing the Note,” “The Dreamy Sunflower,” “The Bright Butterfly” and “A Spring Dream.”
“They’re full of life and my happiness,” he added, observing that painting is “my favorite thing to do.”
“Spring after the Storm” was fifth-grade classmate Caroline Motyl’s favorite. “I like the name and the color best because I think it’s really creative,” the 10-year-old said, adding that Alex’s project is “a really brave thing to do. It’s nice because he’s helping other people,” she said.
Alex said he was inspired to use his artistic talent for a good cause after seeing a “CBS Sunday Morning” story about a legally blind artist, Jeff Hanson, who has raised $1 million for charities like the Make-a-Wish Foundation and a children’s hospital through the sales of his paintings.
“I felt like ‘Why couldn’t I do the same for hearing so other kids like me can hear?’ I like to talk to my parents about my day and listen to music,” said Alex.
Nada Mussomeli, Alex’s mother, said he was 3 months old when his hearing loss was detected in both ears due to an enlarged vestibular aqueduct, an inner-ear malformation. He received a Cochlear implant in the right ear when he was 3 years old and also has a hearing aid in his left ear.
“My parents wanted me to be mainstreamed so I got a hearing aid, but we learned that the implant is stronger,” Alex said.
Alex uses his senses of hearing and vision as he paints. In his artist’s statement Alex said, “Sometimes I get inspired by something I see.” He also listens to music, sometimes relaxing and sometimes stirring compositions. “I like music full of expressions. I always have music on when I paint.” Ideas dance in his head as his brush dances on the canvas, he said.
Hundreds of people turned out for Alex’s show, among them John Hansen of Fairfield, who said he appreciates the young artist’s use of color, diversity within in the field of plant life and positivity.
Family friend Carol Mueller of Westport said Alex “is an inspiration to all who know him. Alex loves art and enjoys visually expressing his optimism through his painting.”
Nada and Adam Mussomeli said they could not be more proud of their son. Nada Mussomeli said she is inspired watching him do his art and enjoy every minute. “It was a journey.” She also said her dream is that a cure for hearing loss is discovered in her lifetime, but if not in hers then in Alex’s.