De’VIA 29 Challenge 2016 – me art

29 day challenge

Just a space to put up the art ill be creating during the De’VIA Feb 29 Day Challenge 2016

See De’VIA central FB for more info on the challenge and the motifs for each day


Day #1 CHAIR

In the Box Front view P Durr

In the Box P Durr back view.jpg

“In the Box”
P Durr
Mixed media assemblage
Red haired doll wearing sunflower dress in wooden crate sitting on oversized blue chair – telephone headset on head with cord wrapped around neck and hands one eye open legs sprayed wooden hand holding up fake ear. Yellow ceramic halo in background and Christmas lights in the back.
2nd image – chair turned around – doll naked telephone cord going to wind up knob at doll s bottom fake ear nailed to chair black and white pix of young girl in plaid dress with hands in pocket at top of chair. Christmas lights in the background

Deaf Greens – artistic expressions from prison

prisona year and a half ago we started a De’VIA Prison Art Workshop in a maximum security men’s prison.  we go once a month and work on various De’VIA art projects with the guys.  it has been a very meaningful and moving experience for me.  Below is a poem one of the guys wrote about the counselor (‘blue’) and interpreter (‘long coral’) and us (the artworkshop folks – ‘long red’, ‘short brown’, ‘later beard’) and the ART!

i cant properly explain all i am learning and feeling from this experience but it is abundant and priceless.  i hope others will take up doing art, literature, continuing ed or other types of projects in prisons – especially with Deaf prisoners. Language deprivation is huge in prison for Deaf folks.

To read more about the prison art project go to: and read about A Room With a View.  To see some of the artworks on display – go to the Unfolding the Soul of Black Deaf Expression exhibit in the Dyer Arts Center (show ends at the end of February).  Scroll down to see some artwork here also and an artwork from Maria Dollhopf asking for folks to take a stand on behalf of Deaf people in prison.

by CJ

Greens lived enclosed colorless

become mindless dwindling

Abandon hope, left behind isolation, diminish
Dwell loss humanity turn to savage mind
Blue saw them, look not good for deaf greens
Long Coral was newcomer and met some of them.
Long Coral fascinated hand communication, learned them
Gave her free time to others
Blue and Coral tried bring them into good side but struggling
Blue seek out and found long Red, short brown later beard
Bought 3 of them into enclosed colorless, appear before deaf greens
Deaf greens look up, saw beautiful colorful light and being awake
3 of them magic turn colorless into colorful room
Hope restore, grow, humanity return slowly, Fill up mindful with soul
Long Coral took over blue’s task
Long Coral brought yellow, pink and coral color to this room, addition feminine’s touch
This room slow grow colorful, light up, pop new painting, drawing papers
Deaf greens unable express but their feeling truly grateful for all 5 of you
Deaf greens will never forget all of you, all of you will be in memory into mind
So thankful for your big heart and your time
Forward for more magic drawing and painting in future and much more….
~ written CJ upon release leaving prison
CJ thank you so much for this precious poem.
many holiday cards prison
Holiday cards made in the De’VIA prison project.
Deaf in prison collage of art no name.png
(collage of images put together by Rob Tawney “later beard”)
prisoner in cellScreen shot 2016-01-17 at 4.30.48 PM
butterfly prison
flag prison art
jesus w angel w

Screen shot 2015-08-30 at 12.56.10 AM

These trees were made by different prisoners at different times – without any prodding or suggestions from us.  the third light sketch one was for a later mural that would be made up of 4 canvases.  when getting ready to paint the canvases the guys had to ask the newest member what trees’ colors were as they could not properly remember having gone so long without seeing trees.  (this is made evident in a letter from Felix Garcia – a Deaf man who has been in prison in FLA for over 30 years for a crime his brother has confessed to)
felix tree note
maria dollhopf prison artart by Maria Dollhopf

Celebrating Andrew & Others

NTID had another marvelous Deafmute Banquet November 13, 2015.  (dont worry the word “mute” is used here in historical reference to the Deafmute banquets hosted in France in honor of the founded of the Paris Deaf school, l’Epee, and the people of the handeye (signed language people)

Souvenirposter(2)jpfIn addition to the awesome Roots Out of a Dry Ground: The Life and Work of Andrew Foster exhibit  and the Unfolding the Soul of Black Deaf Expressions exhibit in Dyer Arts Center –  (see excerpts of the Black Deaf artists panel – there was also a screen of a 30 minute film on the Life and Legacy of Andrew Foster, which can be seen at

The banquet featured NTID/RIT student actors portraying important Black Deaf people who have passed away – you can see these short ASLized bios at:

Eugene Hairston (boxer) by Malik Morris

Nathie Marbury (ASL teacher and storyteller) by Leah Murray

Jeremiah Germany (VR counselor, teacher, and advocate) by Keith Banks

Peter Mba (first Deaf Nigerian to get doctorate – leader in the field of Special Education) by Oladimeja Okeniyi

Gabriel Adepoju  (Deaf Nigerian to found a Deaf school) by Ikemefuna Chukwunyerenwa

Annie Mae Fultz (mother of Black quadruplets) by Abigail Danquah

Douglas Craig (caretaker at Gallaudet) by Joan Bempong

Linwood Smith (author, poet, and mental health leader) by Justin Perez

Andrew Foster (first Black Deaf person to graduate from Gallaudet, founded over 30 school for the Deaf, educator, mentor, and missionary)  by Kyle Morris

We hope to add Roger O’Kelly (Deafblind lawyer) by David Player soon

#WPSD Hunger Strike – a poem by Karen Christie

#WPSD Hunger Strike

by Karen Christie


The grand double doors at WPSD

Do not have a flashing lights button

So the knock can only summon

Hearing folks.

The knocks are one of the few sounds

They are able to ignore.


Without sound,

There is no language.


A new day.


The school windows now have blackout curtains

They refuse to look

At the starving Deaf bodies

On their doorstep


They refuse to see

The young Deaf bodies

Starving too.



The strikers

Have been hungering

For days, and days, and days

Mostly for a response, a dialogue.

Mostly for the children, their/our future.



The adults at WPSD

Feed them all only

long moments of silence and neglect.


And whose soul here

is truly

in the most

mortal danger?

Into the Pit

English is below the video box

NOTE: correction – title of Nancy Rourke’s artwork is “In the Pit” (video has error saying “Into…”)  text below has correct title

Today I’m gonna open this up.

“In the Pit” by Nancy Rourke

(holds up brown paper wrapped painting)

(holds up painting “In the Pit by Nancy Rourke” Black streaked background with black and white hands with blue tape X in the pit and ASL etched in the corner)

Why has this artwork affected me so much?
A while back I taught a course on Deaf People During World War II, which had a focus on the Holocaust. I have also met many survivors of the Holocaust. I have interviewed some Jewish Deaf survivors of the Holocaust, videotaping them and documenting their histories. In doing that, I had to do research in the photo archives of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum – looking for images that would match up and could be edited into the visual history testimonies of the Deaf survivors. I saw many many images of Jewish people being forced into pits. Mass graves. Often the Jewish people themselves were forced at gun point to dig graves, many of them knew what was coming – that they would be shot and left in these pits. I saw images of women and children and babies – everyone slaughtered. And I am always left wondering “HOW?” “How could this ever have happened?”
So with THIS artwork

We see hands with blue tape, representing Oralism, in the pit. And ASL is abandoned there in the pit also. I have put off vlogging or blogging about this artwork. I have even put off opening this artwork.

I have refused to open it for so so so long.

Why? The biggest reason why is because it is too painful. The truth of it – of our situation, of our world circumstances – it is TOO painful.

I do my best to face the truths, I do my best to confront oppressive systems. At the same time sometimes it feels too impossible. The system is too big and I am too small.

This artwork to me – represents the 2nd wave of Oralism. We have already experienced the 1st wave of Oralism, which most of you know of from 1880 Milan.

The 2nd wave of Oralism means what? It means the forcing of Oralism – the banning of signing and the punishment that comes when a child signs. That 2nd wave started here in the US when different corporations began pushing Cochlear implantations, telling parents they “must, must, must” via early “intervention” and the newborn Hearing screening. Once an infant / child is detected to be Deaf the push for cochlear implants and AVT (Auditory Verbal Therapy) begins.

The tandem team of CI implanting and AVT (oral / aural only) has been building momentum for the past 20 years.

Oral Deaf schools are back and increasing all over the country

Deaf schools that use sim-com or some type of signing are closing one by one

Illinois School for the Deaf uses Cued Speech in the classrooms

This is the 2nd wave – the great PUSH – of Oralism

(holds up artwork “Into the Pit”)

Its true.


Its real.

So this artwork affects me because… I know its real.

Because I meet survivors of the 2nd wave every day

I meet survivors of the 1st wave every day

Because too many of us for too long have played the 3 evils of the hear no, see no, say no monkeys

We will say – “oh yeah back then there was horrible punishment against signing.” We always emphasized the “way back then…” as if it were a thing of the past. That is not true. It is happening AGAIN!

I feel emotional why? Because when engaging in different peaceful protests about education, language rights and human rights – who tends to show up? Deaf people who come from Deaf families or Deaf people who had Hearing parents but have their own Deaf children. They have created a 2nd generation of Deaf people. The 2nd generation (or more folks) or the folks who created a 2nd generation know all too well and intimately about the 2nd wave of Oralism. They know both the first and second wave of Oralism. Whereas the majority of members of our Deaf communities often turn away from this truth, they don’t worry about it. They almost seem to not even care.

Why? Most of them come from Hearing parents and they were born Deaf or became Deaf later from illness or fever and later they in turn have Hearing children. To them what it means to be Deaf is just one generation thick. They don’t really care that much about the next generation. Well, yes they do care conceptually but care enough to actually DO something, to take some ACTion on behalf of our beloved communities – no, certainly not as much as it should be.

When it relates to issues of jobs, something that directly affects them – then yes you will see folks be more ACTive. I commend taking a stand on that issue (employment) and support it. Yet to see folks not take a stand on behalf of all our peoples as a people – hmmmm.

Regarding Holocaust studies – a great many Jewish people were murdered and one big reason why was because so many other people did nothing. They said “well I am not Jewish, it does not affect me, or my children or my future.”


That mind set terrifies me. Truly terrifies me.

When human beings become so selfish, hard hearted and cruel.

(added here – indifference to me is often cruel)
Thankfully during the Holocaust there were many good people “rescuers” who risked their lives and the lives of their families. I really commend and admire them. If I were in their predicament, I can honestly say I don’t know what I would have done. I’m so grateful to them.

At the same time MANY people were slaughtered. Many children were slaughtered.

While what we are facing here is thankfully not an overt and systematic genocide. It is not. But it is part of a genocide. Some people get upset with the use of the term genocide here. Many scholars and authors have written that indeed what we are facing is a linguistic and cultural genocide. (holds up “In the Pit” and nods head YES)

Its true.

It is true.

If you look at the UN conventions on genocide – many of those parameters fit what the Deaf world is facing today and for Deaf peoples in other nations it is far worse. It is a linguistic and cultural genocide. There is a systematic effort to TAKE AWAY the languages, cultures, values and the rights of BEING Deaf peoples as a group – ethnicity and collective – it is being actively removed, campaigned against by division, mainstreaming/assimilation/isolation, and removal.

That systematic push – the 1st and 2nd wave of Oralism has caused many deaths. It has. We need to face that. That is the thing I hate the most to look at. Because these deaths are horrible, murder and hatred are horrible.

I can express more and more but I don’t want to go on and on. You know peoples’ attention today is geared towards things that are short, flashy, upbeat, or very dramatic ASL that holds the attention. To consider something long, deep, emotional, heavy, upsetting, most don’t want to see such. I also need to protect myself. Putting out ones heart felt feelings on something is very difficult. Often when doing so we will encounter folks who minimize, or harshly disagree, or twist or say prove it. Which makes me feel annoyed and then even after proving all the points, will still encounter more who say “I need to see more proof” and we end up wasting our time when we should be challenging the true systematic oppressors.

Some of us are ready. Some of us have been studying, researching, talking with, feeling, experiencing these truths and are ready to lock arms in solidarity and march forward.

So I delayed opening this artwork because I know it is true. I know it is real and many have already been put into the pit and many more will be thrown into the pit. I feel responsible. I feel have not personally done enough. I feel our communities here and all over the globe have not done enough.

There are a variety of reasons of why we keep getting trapped and don’t make much progress. One reason is because many of our leaders believe they need to imitate the oppressive systems in order to beat it. This means that they think the way to break through is to dress in a tie and talk and walk and behave like the oppressor – to learn their ways to prove they are worthy. Others believe in working in the system so they can try to nudge things this or that way and many other approaches.

From my studies of histories – one thing that has really been effective in changing viciously oppressive systems – to really shake them up and uproot them – is Civil Disobedience, Noncooperation, Direct Action. Those methods that Gandhi taught us (the small bald Indian man with glasses who got England out of India) – how he did this was through peaceful activism. It took years and years and years… Same with the Civil Rights movement here in the U.S. – Black people stood for years and years and years to get schools integrated, laws passed, jobs increased, etc. They are still facing horrible racism today but those laws and actions brought about real change – real important and positive change. Solve everything – no but part of the process which is so important.

This issue is very upsetting to me because I know it is huge and it feels like we are too late. We are not too late. There are many many things we can still do and will do and should do and that is good.

But I have to and I hope you have to too – MOURN. We need to mourn the fact that many Deaf people are gone. (crying) Some were killed directly from cochlear implantation surgery, complications, infections etc. Some have taken their own lives. I believe the Deaf communities may have a high rate of suicides and attempted suicides. Psychologists have not really studied that yet. Folks seem to study everything else about Deaf bodies except Deaf folks emotional well-being in the face of systematic oppression. They never study that – instead all the focus is on studying the ears and mouths and such.

We have really lost a great many people – children, adults, all ages – especially teenagers. Teen age years are often an intense time of crisis for Deaf people. Some people discuss that PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is very high amongst Deaf people). Many things.

Thank you for watching me open the artwork.

I’m happy I finally opened it.

Now I am more committed to facing this challenge today and hence forth. At the same time – today or yesterday I saw on Facebook that Nancy Rourke, the same artist who made (Points off screen at “In the Pit”) has a new very large painting – entitled the 2nd Wave of Milan. It’s perfect. I think I was waiting for that painting to be finished before I opened this one. They seem to be sisters.

(looking at “In the Pit” again and getting emotional)

So I hope you will do something. If you feel you don’t know what to do – Deaf prisoners situation, Deaf children, EHDI, Newborn Hearing screening, Illinois School for the Deaf … if it all seems too big – It’s alright. Just pick one thing. Pick one thing and start picking away at it. I really think the situation at the Illinois School warrants our attention – see their FB page “Ban Audism at Illinois School for the Deaf”


the battle

English entry below the video box

i have not written a blog entry in ages but it seems the High Holidays always get me into a deeper time of reflection and other current events have been nagging at me to write this post.  It is kinda the reason for me writers block methink.

Ya see, a few years ago i saw a work by Nancy Rourke and it kinda rattled my soul.  Many of the works by De’VIA surdists really shake me up but this one was like – wow and ugh and then i wouldnt look at it.  just the thought of it would make me cry. Many moons later Nancy R. had a booth at NTID and this work was there for sale.  At first i was surprised to see how small it was.  Some times artworks pack so much power into them i expect them to be larger than life and then when i meet them if they are small im like WOW – the power of the imagination.  The Mona Lisa is one of those works that just seem like it must be very large but in fact she is pretty small.

so when i saw the haunting work by Nancy R. up close and personal – i was like “i have to buy it” “but then i was like – i really do NOT want to have it. but i really should have it”  yes a debate raged

so i said – i will see see if anyone else buys it (then i will be off the hook ; ) and ill know it wasnt meant for me to have. When the weekend was over and Nancy R. had packed up her works and headed home, i still thought about that work.  Later i checked her website to see if it had been sold and it hadn’t – i emailed her to check if in fact it had been sold yet – she said NOPE.  so i asked if i could buy it and her bring it when she came to town soon and she said sure. and when she brought it to me wrapped in brown paper, she looked to see me open it and i said “i cant open it” and my eyes got all teary as they are getting now.  I have had it for over a year now.


i still havent opened it

i began this blog entry with the intention of unveiling this artwork to myself but still i am delaying.  stalling.  i have thought about the image many times and have composed, in my mind, various blog entries in its honor many times and still i have not opened it

when i do – ya all will probably be like – “well that is no big deal.  i have seen much more pow pow coming off the brush of Nancy Rourke” but you dont know what i see and i really dont know how to properly convey what i see and what i feel and what i know when i think about the artwork (just thinking about this image is triggering my flood gates to open) – it is that powerful.  i think i was hoping … expecting etc that by keeping it under wrap that i might tame it a bit. that it might not be so overwhelmingly painful to look at – that instead it would serve as a beacon and a rally cry – which i do believe is what it is meant to be for me.  im just having an awfully hard time of getting from the place of knowing what was, what is, and what may be to the point of “we can change the course of history.”  Fear dances to strongly with this artwork and me but perhaps tomorrow i will be brave.  some very important things have been happening lately and for the things i have participated in – i know they have been fueled by this image and what it means and represents to me and i know we are trying well and rightly and goodly to shift the sands of time so perhaps tmw – i will be brave and strong

patti, the puddle, signing off for now


De’VIA Deaf History 3 Day Challenge March 2015

Broke the Barriers from Black Deaf Brothers by Takiyah Harris

Broke the Barriers from Black Deaf Brothers by Takiyah Harris

Links to pdfs of the De’VIA Deaf History Challenge – honoring Deaf History Month

Day 1 Deaf History DeVIA Day 1 b

Day 2 Deaf History DeVIA day 2 pdf

Day 3 Deaf History challenge revis – Day 3 pdf

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