Zachary Handler, who graduated magna cum laude from UMBC in May, begins a master’s degree in arts administration at Columbia University this fall. “My goal and dream in life is to start a visual and performing arts secondary school for deaf youth,” says Handler, a Linehan Artist Scholar who majored in visual arts.
Handler is a American Sign Language Program creator and drama teacher at the Green Acres Day Camp (Rockville, Maryland). He has been a teacher’s assistant in deaf and hard-of-hearing K-12 classrooms and an arts assistant at the Maryland School for the deaf.
He first became interested in working with the deaf after taking a sign language class at Quince Orchard High School. “My teacher, Susan Davidoff Gershowitz, taught me the importance, significance and pure beauty of the language, people and culture,” Handler says. “The deaf community is the community I am most passionate about and want to make sure that the art of the deaf is abundant and included within the greater art world. There aren’t enough deaf artists, and deaf youth should have an institution that can hone and focus their intrinsic talent, enlightening and providing their creative potential.”
Handlers art often examines the struggle between popularity and ostracism, between those who have power and those who hunger for it. He received a Provost’s Undergraduate Research Award which helped fund the creation of his photography exhibition, “Sticks and Stones: Bullies, Brats and Bashers.” The show was recently on display at Chela Gallery in Baltimores Fells Point/Canton neighborhood.
Handler also presented his work at UMBC’s Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement Day. “I’ve been especially interested in Zack’s work this year,” says Beth Pennington, assistant to the provost and a member of the Provost’s Undergraduate Research Awards Committee. “It’s one of the most innovative projects we’ve ever sponsored.”