just a short bumpy video of the way cool “Please Touch” exhibit in the Dyer Arts Center. From the Dyer:
The Please Touch exhibition features works by DeafBlind artists for DeafBlind visitors. This exhibition will allow our visitors the opportunity to use their hands (and possibly other senses) to experience the artworks on display. The exhibition is also open to other visitors who are curious to explore works through touch.
The exhibit closes December 14 – don’t miss this opportunity to have a hands-on experience with art. Sighted folks don’t tap into all the wonders of tactileness and DeafBlind folks are excluded from many art experiences – so rarely are we invited to TOUCH art.
Don’t miss this wonderful exhibit at the Dyer Arts Center. Closes Dec 14, 2019
Enter from the 2nd floor of LBJ
Rhonda Voight Campbell, Tabitha Jacques and Mackenzie Robbins were instrumental in organizing and curating this exhibit.
Description of video is below the video box
Caged Bird -Distantism
(small wooden figure with feather wings and rope bound hands in a cage with white cane below)
Feel Me Art
(geometric shapes of different sizes, textures and colors)
(mosaic works, many pieces small mirror-like, face is 3d with rays coming outward)
(terra cotta ceramic work with two peak structures with small figures climbing them in various locations)
(mosaic work – tree shape made of many different textured mosaics and many small watches hanging from the branches and in the roots)
A Night Visitor
(hooded figure that is empty inside. there is a small hand stamp imprint on the base)
(two ILY handspaces on their sides connecting forming a heart shape with other rounded shapes around a high border)
Tree of Life
(large bowel surrounded by fake ivy, exterior of the bowl as a weave like texture and a soft velvety material as a border at the top, inside different material textures including glass beads and a pinecone as the center piece)
(two clear plastic gloves filled with small circular metal objects (batteries?) – the gloves are tied at the bottom and very heavy when you lift them)
(large folded boat featuring colors of the Sign Union flag – dark blue yellow and turquoise – with clear dots – indicating the word “hope” in braille)
Rose Color Vase
(tall rectangular shaped vase with imprinted patterns on each of the 4 sides that have been glazed with a dark maroon color ontop of a grey glaze. The top of the vessel is adorned with feathers, beads and sticks woven together)
Rona Von Mering
Incised Candle Vase With Tea Candle
(small ceramic tea candle holder with several oval cut outs to let light shine through and crimp edges at the top of the vase)
(Elvis looking bust with blue head and black hair – silver colored middle finger handshapes stick out of the ears and eyes area. The mouth is a wide open hole) note: i try to sign kiss-fist with the bust because i really like this work.
Go With the Flow
(large 3d panel featuring mountains, sun, waterfall, landscape)
(elegant sculpture of a face with very subtle almost vanishing facial features with different hard and strong textures and shapes for the hair and neck area)
Striving to Thrive
(shapes with English words with raised lines and braille on canvas The words are smaller to larger in size – Abelism, Distantism Vidism. Three small figures are linked together and tied to a larger yellow figure who is using a white cane with a red tip at the bottom. There are stars above them. More braille at the bottom but no English (perhaps the artist’s signature)
note: i tried to sign wonderful show and thank you Dyer at the end of the video
RIT/NTID ARTiculating Deaf Expereinces conference was a big hit. Just a post sharing some of the highlights of the conference.
There were attendees from the Philippines, Brazil, France, England, Norway, Finland, Sweden, and the US. Presentation topics relating to Deaf experiences covered visual art, film, theatre, literature (written and signed), music, documentation and primary sources and more.
The conference evaluations were extremely positive – indicating a healthy mix of academics, staff, students, creatives, and community members responding – representing diverse backgrounds and age groups.
People really appreciated the diverse keynote presenters – covering areas that haven’t already been covered in typical Deaf studies conferences. Many of the evaluations highlighted the reception at the Memorial Art Gallery and the Deaf View/Image Art (De’VIA) exhibit there as being one of the highlights along with the People of the Third Eye production with Nancy Rourke’s live painting during the show. Many people remarked on the importance of the short documentary, Signing Black in America, also.
People really appreciated the diversity, scope and quality of all the presentations and panels. The biggest complaint was how cold the Panara Theatre was. AGREE!!!!
Perhaps if NTID is to host a conference in the future – it should be in the spring ; )
Kudos to all involved and all who attended. Loved the suggestion of showcasing more work by young Deaf children – they are the future.
To see bios and abstracts of the keynotes, presenters, and panelists go to: ADEC-Sessions
Q. Has AG Bell’s position on Listening and Spoken Language (LSL) changed?
A. No. AG Bell’s position regarding LSL is the foundation upon which we exist and remains unchanged. We will continue to promote LSL for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing worldwide and provide related resources to parents who are interested in or have chosen an LSL approach, individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing, and the professionals who serve them.
LSL = Listening and Spoken Language (its just AG Bell’s not subtle way of trying to make ORALism look like a language when it aint). So they be saying they are committed to oral/aural only and excluding sign language from Deaf children and their family’s lives.
AG Bell had to make this statement because their own members were not happy with them teaming up with LEAD-K and AG Bell reassures them by saying – no worries we are still committed to language bigotry all the way.
so…. keep all eyes on AG Bell and let them know “we are watching ya”
We know how you spin and twist. We know your wicked game.
For those who don’t, a wee re-cap.
AG Bell was a eugenicist with a bunch of contradictions.
1. he opposed Deaf teachers, the use of ASL in schools, and Deaf to Deaf marriages.
(while he himself was a signer and signed with his Deaf wife Mabel)
2. he blocked Gallaudet from having Deaf teachers in the normal college (teacher training program)
3. he pushed the oral method with a fanatical devotion despite it being a very abusive and audist system
4. he wrote his missive plotting the eradication of Deaf folks and their sign language https://archive.org/details/cihm_08831/page/n5 & funneled his money, prestige, power and privilege into making his dream a reality. How? see the organization that still bears his name and their commitment to all things oral/aural
from AG Bell’s FAQ on LEAD-K and AG Bell agreement:
AG Bell continues to focus on its mission “working globally to ensure that people who are deaf and hard of hearing can hear and talk.”
NOTE: “hear and talk” is not the issue – its their agenda of doing the “hear and talk” at all cost bit, which is their deal – its what they do and that’s why LEAD-K had to add all that “spoken English only” stuff.
5. he most likely stole the phone – ie it wasn’t his invention – he plagiarized and bribed and lied and manipulated. Hero – he is NOT. (See the Telephone Gambit by Seth Shulman). Tsk tsk tsk Alex – trix are for kids. You will be exposed someday and school kids everywhere will stop studying about how wonderful u were because deceit is not sweet.
Now before all the apologists and revisionists show up to say – “well, that was a long time ago” or “well, the AG Bell Association doesn’t believe the same ideals as AG Bell did” or…
whatever other myth-a-making u want to follow, let us just say this:
The AG Bell Association reeks of language bigotry – always has and always will.
Want proof during modern times that AG Bell Association does not accept Deaf folks right to be multilingual – multicultural, see any one of their recent transgressions.
A sampling of AG Bell’s Association displaying their prejudice against ASL & Deaf people.
– AG Bell protesting Deaf folks being on TV (NBC Experiment in Television) (1967)
– AG Bell protesting Deaf folks being in a Pepsi commercial (2008)
– AG Bell sending out offensive and unwanted membership cards to teachers of the Deaf (2011)
– AG Bell getting all pissy about Nyle DiMarco positively promoting bilingualism (2016) (published letter from AG Bell’s President Sugar http://baltimorepostexaminer.com/ag-bell-dispelling-myths-deafness/2016/04/02)
– All the many many lies AG Bell told our parents
There are many many many more examples. The point is? our leaders should not be making agreements with an organization that oppresses and continues to reaffirm its commitment to being oral/aural only. and…
AG Bell – we is watching u! Happy new year.
“Let us declare to the entire world that the deaf will not be crucified on the cross of a single method.”
Newspaper clipping from the St Louis Post Dispatch. Image of Randy Pituk signing to an attendee of the Deaf Visual Arts Festival with three of his paintings in front of him (edge of an US flag, RESIS fingerspelling vertically, Self portrait holding a cat)
(students painting black on the DEAF, Inc. mural, Ellen Mansfield presenting about her art, David Call presenting about De’VIA as students look on. photos from DEAF, Inc. FB page)
A few days before the DVAF – Nancy Rourke, David Call, and Ellen Mansfield lead a workshop with students from Missouri School for the Deaf and Illinois School for the Deaf. The students did art activities that taught them about each of these artists’ styles and motifs. They also made a group mural for DEAF, Inc. using Rourkeism (Nancy Rourke’s style of using three primary colors and black and white). The painting looks really great and each of the artists shared how absorbed the students were in the work of making art. They could see the students are starving for contact with Deaf role models – especially artist. There are no art programs in either school for the Deaf. Imagine. ART is so therapeutic and teaches so many skills; such as, critical thinking, analysis and balance, etc.
I have seen this intensity in art creating amongst the Deaf men in a maximum security prison that we give a monthly art workshop to. I also see this wonderful sense of commitment and accomplishment to their own creations. Their encouragement and support to each other as the muse and create and revise is a wonderful thing to behold. These types of spaces – schools for the Deaf without any art education and prisons where Deaf prisoners are often targeted for abuse and experience language deprivation – are so important to ensure that art happens.
Art is a visual language that can communicate, heal, and transcend. I’m really grateful to DEAF, Inc. for making it possible for these art-deprived Deaf students to have some workshop time with these stellar teaching artists.
(top picture – Nancy Rourke explaining how to do the L.O.V.E. painting, Painters at DEAF, Inc. giving a hand wave, budding artists hard at work, participants forming the fingerspelled letter with their hand as they prepare to paint. photos from DEAF, Inc facebook page)
After a busy day with the students – presenting, teaching and doing the large painting – the artists then went to a wine and paint event where Nancy Rourke taught participants how to paint in the Rourkeism style. Everyone enjoyed themselves immensely and I regret I wasn’t there to witness all the fun. And look what they are painting! L.O.V.E. we all need LOVE. (If you click the images – you can see how immersed everyone was with their work).
The next day there was a discussion group about setting up a Deaf Artists Guild. This idea has been discussed from time to time over the years. In 2012 at the Ky Deaf Arts Festival, David Call had called for a guild to be established. Since that would take time and resources to get going – Nancy Rourke cleverly and kindly established De’VIA Central Facebook. While not a guild, De’VIA Central FB has been instrumental in serving as a networking, distribution, & inspiration space for De’VIA artists and fans. Thank you forever and always Nancy for creating this virtual online artist colony / residency. In 2013 during a retreat of about 40 De’VIA artists, hosted by the Deaf Cultural Center at Kansas School for the Deaf, Guy Wonder led a session on the future of De’VIA in which we brainstormed a wishlist. One of the wishes was to get De’VIA curriculum into the classroom – that goal has been met by our annual De’VIA Curriculum training sessions. This summer, De’VIA Curr IV, will be at the Indiana School for the Deaf where scores of teachers from all over the US will come to learn and share . See https://deviacurr.wordpress.com/ for lesson plans, motif challenges, coloring pages and more. Deaf Artists in Residencies (DAIR) in schools have been taking off also, as well as community and prison workshops. Another wish was to have some type of organization devoted to art about the Deaf experience and that goal has been met with the formation of De^ARTivists United. See https://devartivistunited.wordpress.com/. Getting De’VIA works into non-Deaf and Deaf related galleries and exhibits has been hopping along just fine now (see Let There Be Light: De^ARTivism exhibit at Pepco Edision (Washington, DC) (see catalog and more https://deviapepcoedisongallery.wordpress.com/), To Deafhood with Love at AMoR (Rochester, NY) (see artwork and info https://deafhoodwlove.wordpress.com/.) Wanting more Deaf artists of color to create and share their works – this has really been growing – we need more but its happening and i’m so thrilled – Dyer Arts Center hosed the Unfolding the Black Deaf Soul exhibit (catalog at http://www.blurb.com/books/6951862-unfolding-the-soul-of-black-deaf-expressions) and symposium last fall and has a call out for the Arte del Corazón exhibit (scroll down for call for works https://www.rit.edu/ntid/dyerarts/exhibitions_future )which will have a symposium for POC Deaf artists).
During the Kansas “future of De’VIA” discussion we also listed that we wanted to establish a Deaf Artists Guild. Cynthia Weitzel offered to spearhead this and has been networking, taking training, and gathering information from various Hearing arts organizations over the past few years. Cynthia led the Guild discussion in St. Louis and the final outcome was that a Taskforce was established to create the guild. So glad and Tony Nitko of DEAF Inc, has kindly and goodly accepted to chair the taskforce!!!! Very glad to see this happen and looking forward to seeing how it all shapes up. The Name and the Scope of the guild are probably the first agenda items. I’m totally cool with whatever the group decides but me think:
1. Deaf Artists Guild is dandy
Because if they want it to just be visual artists in the beginning so its more manageable to get going and then want to expand to the other artists – filmmakers, performers, poets, etc. the name will still be fine because ARTISTS includes all of them. They could even have Deaf signsingers because now singers are always called ARTISTS – it’s a very broad term but if they want to start with visual artists only and stay that way – that is fine. If they want to expand to include the other types of creators – they got wiggle room cuz artists in the title applies to them too.
Should it only be for artists who produce works about the Deaf experience?
Me think not. And im a big rah rah rah De’VIA person but the reason why it would be nice if the Guild was for any Deaf artists (De’VIA or non-De’VIA, visual artist, poet, playwright, performer etc) is because these artists have more in common than not – a Guild’s chief function is to bring artists together so they can share their common interests and expertise, network, share resources, receive training, get referrals etc. Both De’VIA and non-De’VIA artists need and deserve this.
Lastly, one of my favorite things about the Deaf Visual Arts Festival in St. Louis was seeing some of my former students from many moons ago. And hugs – getting and giving hugs. Hugs are good.
Thank you again DEAF, Inc., GSLAD, Mo. School for the Deaf, Ill. School for the Deaf, St Louis’ Deaf community, the artists, the students, and Tony Nitko for making it all happen.
DEAF, INC. hosted the first Deaf Visual Arts Festival.
Not only did they do an AMAZING job coordinating and making everything happen – they did it amidst down pours, lightening, and flood warnings. And they were all like “we will make it work” and they did. I really have never since such a hardworking, collaborative, easy going, down to earth community based and driven organization. What a difference it can make to have committed staff and dedicated volunteers. It was such a joy to witness.
So Kudos and big hand waves to them all. Most especially Tony Nitko. Tony was super humble and just doing the good work for the greater good but I’m sure it is his vision and his heart that made this all come together. Thank you, Tony. Kudos to Dr. Thomas Horejes, the director of DEAF, Inc. He runs a wonderful organization and im sure he played a huge role in getting sponsors, making it all possible, and moving things forward. I can see that both DEAF, Inc and Greater St. Louis Association of the Deaf (GSLAD) work for commUNITY building and that goes a long way for the greater good.
If you have never been to Greater St. Louis Association of the Deaf, you will want to go. It’s a great Deaf club. A very large building with a huge meeting room – that was used for the artists’ booths and another large room that has a big Bar and pool table etc. DEAF, Inc. had a huge lovely tent for the performers and presenters for this festival but due to the ongoing down pour they had relocate the stage and chairs inside – moving a pool table and many other things – climbing ladder to unhang the banner and move to the new location all while setting up equipment. I didn’t see a sour face amongst anyone. They were all like a well-oiled machine. The kitchen volunteers (yes GSLAD has a large kitchen) worked all day cooking food for lunch and dinner. There was a huge crowd throughout the day – the flow from the exhibiting booth area to buy artworks – into the social / performance space went smoothly. Volunteers to do registration, to give out water bottles to the exhibiting artists, to watch booths, to volunteering to drive someone (me) who forgot their banner back to the hotel (thank you Jason!), really on and on – I could list all the amazing things everyone did to make the first Deaf Visual Arts Festival a huge success. I hope ya all get some well-deserved rest and THANK YOU AGAIN.
Changing Hearts Through the Arts – I have always believed that we can change hearts through the arts and that is more and more self-evident when attending these festivals and when tons and tons of individuals approach a booth and look around until their eyes fall upon an artwork that speaks to them and then they ask the artists about it and they start to share how they connect with the work. I can not tell you the value of this – it is priceless – even if the person doesn’t feel they can buy the artwork – their connection to it is real and goes such a long way to validating the Deaf experience and Deaf way of life.
A few examples from Deaf Visual Arts Festival:
Snapshot 1: Just a short time into the opening of the festival – I went to look at some Hamsa tiles by De’VIA Surdist Ellen Mansfield as I had seen them earlier while she was setting up and though I might buy one and when i return a wee bit later – ta da they were already sold. Blink and you miss it at the DVAF in St. Louis.
Snapshot 2: David Call was chatting with a man who had two young sons with him – as David was flipping through his portfolio of works – the man noticed something and asked David to go back so David went back until the man signed “that one” and David Call began to explain about the artwork honoring Andrew Foster – the man said “I know. I am Nigerian.” Andrew Foster is a Black Deaf American who founded over 30 Deaf Schools in West Africa. He tragically died in a plane crash in Rwanda as he was taking a flight to go home to Michigan to be with his family for Christmas. David and this man discussed the various symbols in this artwork as his two young sons playfully hung off of each other and patiently waited and watching. It was priceless. (to see David Call explaining this artwork The Andrew’s Baobab Tree go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H2Pz04_lS6o)
Snapshot 3: While I was giving a presentation on the bridge from De’VIA to Surdism, many people were nodding their heads in recognition of a shared too-common experience of the Deaf-world – the experience of surviving oralism (education system that denies the use of signing). St. Louis being home to three Deaf oral schools means most everyone in the room identified with some of the De’VIA artworks being shown. This recognition is affirming and liberating – getting the truth out to the public is validating and transformative. For Hearing newbies in the audience – their jaws drop “really! That stuff happened and happens!” Yep and for the Deaf folks – to know others see that as uncool and bad is very liberating. And of course, the Affirmation artwork makes us all feel good and the visual testimonies of peaceful resistance – the various parades, and sitins, and social media campaigns – all using art for social justice – made them feel proud.
My favorite moment was probably when the artwork by Alex Martianov on the cover of Paddy Ladd’s book, Understanding Deaf Culture: In Search of Deafhood was discussed. I asked the audience what the U shaped hand on the ear of the person signified – they responded “that the person is Deaf” yep. Then I asked “whose hand do you think it is?” and they thought a bit and right away one person signed “God’s” and I said “yep so the image is communicating that we were made Deaf by God and that is it” and they nodded their heads and said “yes” and “right” and “true.” This view of us being meant to be or become Deaf and it’s a blessing is really what Deafhood is about and that consciousness of “its good to be Deaf” has really been transforming our communities. Folks who don’t believe in God, generally do believe we are meant to be this way – “sign it loud – we Deaf and Proud.”) Thank you Paddy for making the self-evident clear.
Snapshot 4: Nancy Rourke shared a powerful experience she had with one attendee to the DVAF – the person pointed at Nancy’s LOVE poster and shared that her boyfriend had presented her with the same L.O.V.E. poster and said “I want you to have this. I want you to never forget that I love you.” She accepted it gladly and shortly after that he died of an unexpected heart attack at 28 years old. Imagine this. The woman then wrote on the back the date her boy friend had given her the visual gift of his unending love and what he had said to her so she would indeed never forget. Of course Nancy cried upon seeing this true story. And when she retold the story to a few of us – we all also started to cry with one person signing “he knew. somehow the boyfriend must have know he was going to die.” yes, goosebumps.
ART is powerful – PERIOD.
It changes hearts better, faster, deeper, and longer than any medicine I know of.
Snapshot 5: Randy Pituk had a booth at DVAF – ya hoo. I can not tell u how happy this makes me. Randy is a GREAT painter and mixed media artist – he is also just a super sweet and humble guy. Everyone who knows Randy from St. Louis stopped by his booth and said “your art?” or “your pictures?” or “you do?” in shock. They didn’t know this side of randy – he has a BFA and he is SKILLED. Anyways, in addition to be hopping happy that Randy is painting and has launched his wehttp://pitukstudio.com/bsite and sold a bunch of paintings at DVAF and will come to Spectrum II – pretty pleassssssseeeeeee. The snapshot moment I want to share is when a policeman came over and was studying one of Randy’s artworks. It’s a pow pow piece about US life and the oppressed. It’s a controversial piece so I wasn’t quite sure how the cop was gonna read it. He called over a volunteer interpreter and
asked Randy “is this your work?”
cop: “can you explain it to me?”
Cop: “is it for sale?”
S O L D
Wow – so nice to witness – how this policeman was affected by this piece and this engagement between two strangers – all via art.
SNAPSHOT 6: Several folks wanting to get the Deaf Union Flag by French Deafblind artist, Arnaud Balard. Most especially a young Deaf boy and once the flag was in his hand he held it up proudly waving it back and forth with a huge smile on his face.
Ah, its good to be Deaf, eh?
There are many other magical moments that I’m sure I’ve missed as so much was happening – I didn’t get to see a lot of the interactions further down the aisle or in the other row (yes it was that big). I also missed the performances – wahhh – as I really love performing arts and would have loved to see Sunshine 2.0, Douglas Ridloff, and Abababa (Alan Abarbanell) performances. I’m grateful to the volunteers who watched the De^ARTivists United D^AU booth while I was presenting or videotaping here and there so i did get to see and do a wee bit.
Really just an amazingly wonderful event – and one of the many great moments was to learn more about Tony Nitko as an artist himself. David Call was urging, encouraging, and pleading that Tony come out as an artist and me hope he is on his way. I always love learning about new artists and am always amazed by how so many talented De’VIA artists are hidden. So glad they are coming forward. Tony’s art is really good. Filmmaker, artist, marketing director and more – boundless talent. DEAF, Inc. and our Deaf communities at large are blessed to have him.
Will do a part II entry as this post is already lllloooooonnnnnggggg.
Bottom line – THANK Y O U DEAF, Inc. , GSLAD, and all the sponsors of the Deaf Visual Art Festival – you ROCK! Thank you too to all the volunteers and all the attendees who braved the storm and came in soaking wet to soak in the art and become collectors of De’VIA and last but never least – thank you to the artists for CREATING your works, for packing up all your display stands, artworks, accessories, banners, equipment, etc and making the big trip to be at your booth ALL day to meet greet sell and celebrate.
There have been some pictures and a few articles about the festival so check them out at the DEAF, Inc. facebook page. And i hope to put up a few short videos soon.
John Hotchkiss, alumnus of the Connecticut Asylum for the Education and Instruction of Deaf and Dumb Persons (American School for the Deaf) and professor at the National Deafmute College (Gallaudet University), told many great stories about Laurent Clerc in the important 1913 NAD film “Memories of Old Hartford.” There are no films of Laurent Clerc, since moving pictures were invented after his death, making Hotchkiss’ visual testimony of what Clerc looked-like, walked-like, taught-like, and thought-like priceless.
This clip from Hotchkiss’ “Memories of Old Hartford” explain how an elderly Clerc was admiring the plinth monument that was erected at ASD in Thomas Gallaudet’s memory and Clerc’s response when asked if a monument should be established in his memory. Clerc replied that he really didn’t know about that but that if such a monument was to be made he would like it to be erected near the one honoring T. Gallaudet for as in life they worked together so after death may they be remembered together. Years later the Deaf community raised funds ($3,000 – note how Hotchkiss signs the word for $ as a coin in the palm of the hand) to have a bronze bust of Clerc made and placed it where he had specified. (Note the monument honoring Thomas Gallaudet no longer exists but the bas-relief of Thomas Gallaudet teaching (designed by Deaf artist – John Carlin and sculpted by Mr. Argenti in 1854 for the south panel of the original Gallaudet monument) was salvaged. (see below the video box). The monument itself was designed by Deaf artist Albert Newsam, a teacher of Carlin’s. (see below the video box for info on Newsam and Carlin’s work on the Thomas Gallaudet’s monument and a detail of Newsam in an artwork by Nancy Rourke. The bronze bust monument honoring Laurent Clerc remains at ASD)
Excerpt from Made in America: Printmaking, 1760-1860: An Exhibition of Original Prints
from Educational biography. Memoirs of teachers, educators, and promoters and benefactors of education, literature, and science, reprinted from the American journal of education. Part I. Teachers and educators. Volume 1. United States. Edited by H. Barnard
10 score years ago – ASL reached the shores of North America – via LSF – langue des signes française (French Sign Language) a la Laurent Clerc. Laurent, a French Deafmute teacher at the Institution Nationale des Sourds-Muets, learned it from his peers and teachers like Massieu before becoming a teacher himself. Despite the folklore told of how the Hearing Abbe de l’Epee invented LSF for Deaf students – the French Deaf community already had a language before l’Epee formed the first permanent school in the world to use sign language.
“…once Épée had conceived the noble project of devoting himself to the education of the deaf, he wisely observed that they possessed a natural language for communication to each other. As this language was none other than sign language, he realized that if he managed to understand it, the triumph of his undertaking would be assured. This insight has been justified by success. So the abbé de l’Épée was not the inventor or creator of this language; quite the contrary, he learned it from the deaf.” Pierre Desloges (1779)
So too we see that the folklore of Clerc bringing LSF became ASL- ignores that there were already vibrant natural sign languages existing in North America prior to Clerc’s arrival. Plains Indian Sign Language and Martha’s Vineyard Sign Language as well as home signs played a significant role in the birth of ASL. It was the combining and intermingling of these languages that brought about “the” sign language of the U.S.
200 years later – ASL still has a strong kinship with LSF. Plains Indians Sign Language is on the decline but similarities can be detected in old footage and books. Martha’s Vineyard sign language is no longer alive, having died off when the last Deaf islander passed on, so its hard to do a comparison with MVS.
Despite a relentless campaign against American Sign Language and Deaf culture (see Baynton’s Forbidden Signs: American Culture and the Campaign Against Sign Language, When the Mind Hears: A History of the Deaf and Mask of Benevolence: Disability the Deaf Community by Lane and many others), ASL has continued to grow, rise, and now SOAR.
Yes, ASL is soaring – it takes a licking and keeps on ticking. Despite the first wave of
Milan that began in full speed after the ICED Milan Congress of 1880 where Oral methods of teachers were ruled to be superior to sign language, despite the second wave of Oralism with the mass implanting of Deaf children and the aggressive oral / aural only (AVT) regime being resurrected, despite the AG Bell Association freaking out any time a wee bit of ASL was shown on TV or accepted in popular culture, despite the EHDI’s strong bias for anything auditory and oral and against anything visual and natural, despite the FDA approving CI in toddlers and stem cell experimentation on newborns, despite parents being bamboozled, mislead, and disinformed, despite oodles and noodles of things – ASL still SOARS – 10 score years later.
(amongst all these years of persecution – which are still going on today in the US of A – know that wee children have been put into dark closest, dunk in scalding hot water, hit with rulers, punished emotionally, physically, verbally, and endlessly – simply for… signing and still ASL keeps on ticking)
ASL is the 3rd most studied language in the US of A
ASL and English languages used at Gallaudet University and NTID/RIT (YES NTID/RIT too). I’m so happy. Thank you to each and all the NTID/RIT students who stood long and hard for language equality and equality of condition and affective education. u shine.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says that Deaf babies, children and youth should be given ASL as does the UN CRPD, WHO, WFD, and ICED 2010
there is more – there is lots more but the point is… VIVA American Sign Language. You take a licking but keep on ticking as is evident in Tick Tock by Ian Sanborn. His eye popping, show stopping, heart racing is an amazing tribute to ASL, Deaf culture, and ARTivists who have worked hard and long to keep ASL alive. Resistance is the secret to possessing joy – as Alice Walker wrote.
So ya hoo and thank u to each and all who stand and stand again and boo to all of you who hurt, persecute, and deprive.
Can u imagine how beautiful it all would be had we not have to repeat this vicious cycle again and again and again. showing the orally raised that it is OK to be Deaf and ASL folks are not inferior – and u aint better than them and they aint better than u and…
See below the video box for a poem from a Deaf man in a maximum security prison – who every time we visited for our monthly De’VIA workshops – he would create works or poems celebrating and affirming A S L.
added below the poem is a viral video of a Deaf grandma teaching her Deaf 9-week old grand child the sign for “grandma” its a precious and priceless visual representation of how ASL keeps ticking and soars
Poem and artwork by A – April 2017
I use my hands like a mouth to speak
I use ASL every day of the week
I am proud to be deaf
For me ASL is the best
It’s a language all its own
I can even use it with a video phone
Many people try to put me down
Yet they don’t know that ASL is all around
I keep my head high
And show everyone my Deaf Pride
What am I?
I’ll give you one guess.
That’s right: I’m Proud to be Deaf
link to viral video of a Deaf grandma teaching her 9 week old grandchild ASL
as it is a link to a Powerpoint presentation i gave at the US Deaf History conference (2017 Minn.) via video conferencing
there is not alot of text – as i only use PP really to give visual references to what I will be discussing but almost every slide has a live link to a website that has US related Deaf history content so i am sharing it here. During the presentation i click the links and toured a wee bit of each site – mostly using specific examples that gave content while also showing how the website is set up and the type of information it provides
the 4 Ps for creating such digital spaces for OURSTORIES are: Persist– sometimes it is very difficult to find or acquire certain materials (articles, films, images, primary sources, documents, etc)
Preserve – once we have found these materials – if they are original we need to get them into secure places – donating materials to an archive is very important (see Gallaudet, RIT/NTID Deaf Studies Archives, CSUN, etc – anyplace that u know is safe and follows proper archival processes – temperature controlled etc)
Protect – make sure the materials are well cared for and well utilized and not misused.
Promulgate – share and share and share. get the good stuff out to the public. So much of Deaf history has been lost, forgotten, swept under the carpet, minimized, misunderstood, erased, etc. Keep searching and sharing and you will see how truly hard, long, and well Deaf folks have stood and fought for justice and equality
Click CC button for captions on video
(transcript is below)
[black screen with white text We Stand With You, NTID Students]
[KC- white woman in black hoodie]
Hello, NTID community!
It just recently happened that students took an impressively strong stand to inform us all of their experiences, to share their heart about discrimination and oppression.
Its so saddening and awful – these experiences.
They are RIGHT! Enough is Enough. PERIOD.
I used to be a faculty member and part of the system.
Today I am hoping many faculty and staff will join in solidarity and #NTIDFacultyStaffCare #NTIDFacultyStaffStandwithYou!
[PD – White woman with short red hair with a colorful shirt]
What am I going to do?
I stand with you, NTID Students.
Yes, we want justice via Language, Communication & Diversity
We CARE and we are collective
in this important work.
Keep on keepin’ on
Don’t give up.
And take care, you all.
[artwork by Nancy Rouke –
colors – red, yellow, blue, black & white]
[Artwork of Two faces with two hands intertwined]
[NR – White woman with glasses and purple sweatshirt with artwork in the background]
See that artwork sketch? I haven’t yet painted it.
It shows students – Standing side by side.
This means they are NOT giving up.
They are still fighting for what needs to be done.
NTID needs to heed their grievances.
That artwork shows my support.
Their hands show how the students are interconnected and interlocked.
[screen shows close up of two sets of hands intertwined as image pans downward]
This shows INTERSECTIONALITY.
Red means power.
[Close up of artwork showing the
back of one hand as red]
The blue represents audism.
Enough is Enough.