Me artworks for the 28 Days of De’VIA Feb 2015

this is a space where i will  be putting up the artworks i have made as part of the #DeVIA28Challenge – see for the motifs for each day and the rules

check out the #DeVIA28challenge in FB and De’VIA Central FB to see all the MARVELOUS De’VIA being made this month.

ill try to update this page daily – day one is at bottom then scroll up.  fingerscrossed i can do an artwork a day for a month – will see see. Due to problems with embedding images and text line up – descriptions and specs are listed at bottom

V ictory P. Durr 2015

V ictory
P. Durr 2015

Your F A I L U R E  P. Durr 2015

Your F A I L U R E
P. Durr 2015

ST Joseph Survivors

St. Joseph Survivors

Detail of St. Joseph Survivors

Detail of St. Joseph Survivors

Will the Circle be Unbroken?  P Durr

Will the Circle be Unbroken?
P Durr

Flight not fright P. Durr 2015

Flight not fright
P. Durr 2015

Mask of Benevolence P. Durr 2015

Mask of Benevolence
P. Durr 2015

Detail of Mask of Benevolence P. Durr 2015

Detail of Mask of Benevolence
P. Durr 2015

color sketch of Betty G. Miller signing "birth" surrounded by flowers and a butterfly  P. Durr 2015

color sketch of Betty G. Miller signing “birth” surrounded by flowers and a butterfly
P. Durr 2015

open box to have to find

Open box view of “to have…to find” P. Durr 2015

Screen shot 2015-02-08 at 12.08.00 AM

Closed box / front view “to have…to find” P. Durr 2015

back view to have to find

Back View “to have…to find”

Top view "to have ... to find"

Top view “to have … to find”

AFA 5 Handstand  P. Durr 2015

AFA 5 Handstand
P. Durr 2015

Detail AFA 5 handstanders

Detail AFA 5 Handstand w public

doodle handstand on black scratch pdurr 2015

“It’s better…” P. Durr 2015

Looking Glass Self Howl v 1 w black scratch pdurr 2015

Looking Glass Self Howl (v. 1 with black ink scratch for mirror) by Patti Durr

Looking Glass Self Howl v alumunium pdurr

Looking Glass Self Howl (v. 1 with aluminum foil for mirror) by Patti Durr

solidarity eyehand fist p durr 2015

Solidarity HandEye Fists P. Durr 2015

Here are my wings P. Durr 2015

Here are my wings
P. Durr 2015

here are my wings detail moon pdurr 2015

Detail of Here are my wings P. Durr 2015

here are my wings chain

Detail of Here are my wings (chain and text)

Detail here are my wings chain and feather

Detail of Here are my wings – chain legs and feathers

edison & co. full p.durr 2015

Edison & Co. P. Durr 2015

detail Edison and Co veditz from ear pdurr

Detail of Edison & Co. P. Durr

detail edison hand film and candle print

Detail of Edison & Co. hand with filmstrip and linocut print of candle

Detail of Edison & Co. - Edison's face with light bulb and film strip

Detail of Edison & Co. – Edison’s face with light bulb and film strip

me as small d with real door chain

updated / upgraded the “me as small d” artwork by adding a real door chain lock on Day 7 of the challenge P. Durr 2015


me as small d full pdurr

“me as small d” by patti durr

me as small d pdurr 2015

detail of “me as small d” by patti durr

  • Day #14 Ladder

V ictory
P. Durr 2015
9 x 12
description: George W. Veditz on top of the Volta Bureau (AG Bell headquarters in DC) waving the Sign Union flag (by Arnaud Balard) A tall ladder leans on the left side of the building. There are two yellow police / crime scene tapes making an X in front of the Volta Bureau’s doorway signifying that AG Bell and co have committed crimes against Deaf people and their families. There is a blue outlined human shape on the steps with red mark near ear and mouth would be as alot of experimentation and abuses has been done to Deaf infants and children in the name of pure Oralism that AG Bell the man and organizaiton promote. There is a bit of blue tape on one of the plaque and on the STOP sign blue letters of AGB appear. on the right side of the building are the faint shape of 12 windows/doors to remember the 12 children who died when cochlear implants began being used on children

  • Day #13 AG Bell

“We are YOUR F-A-I-L-U-R-E”
P. Durr 2015
Black Marker and Watercolor on Watercolor paper
9 x 12
(description: drawing of the fingerspelling handshapes for F A I L U R E with round faces at top and round bells at bottom with “shout lines” around the letters to show how they were signed out STRONGLY / LOUDLY. at bottom is a bell like symbol because one of the sit-in presenters was wearing a bell on her wrist and every time she signed the audience and presenter would look towards the sound)
this is a quick color sketch based on the AFA sit-in at the AG Bell Symposium for Listening and Spoken Language in DC at the Omni Shoreham hotel. Audism Free America (AFA) had peacefully protested in the sweltering heat (103 +) for several days. on the LAST day of the AG Bell symposium – AFA engaged peaceful direct confrontation but having a sit-in during the one of the last presentations about Cultural and Linguistic considerations (cultural competency) – we walked into the Hampton Room and had a sit in. We mouthed and signed to the presenter “sorry” for having interrupted her and we signed out our msg about allowing Deaf children to sign. Ruthie Jordan, one of the founders and leaders of AFA, signed out and shouted out with her Deaf voice – We are your F A I L U R E. mark myer reported seeing one of the attendees of the presentation cry to see this truth declared. Susan Boswell, AG Bell’s Deaf replacement communication director – Catherine Murphy had gone over to Gallaudet University to be the director of communication there – Boswell tried to get AFA peaceful protestors to leave. she pushed and signed and spoke to STOP and LEAVE NOW. AFA said “Stop Deaf Against Deaf. Stop Deaf Against Deaf.” Boswel is also Deaf. AFA succeeded in stopping the presentation that did not have any Deaf representation. MANY DC police arrived and a very heated stand off occurred where it looked like the AFA representatives might be arrested. AFA’s lawyer arrived and discussed different options with the police. Once AFA was assured the presentation would not resume and the conference was over they left under police escort. As AFA was leaving several of the police officers hugged AFA members. Video from the AFA Sit-in

  • Day #12 Candle
    “St. Joseph Survivors”
    P. Durr 2015
    water color
    this work is inspired by survivors of St. Joseph Oral school in St. Louis which is run by nuns where physical abuse and emotional abuse was / is? rampant. black background with lights from candle and grey rock formation representing the outdoor chapel and two survivors (darren and shawn e.) at bottom lighting a candle from the other to make one strong flame. they and other survivors deserve much better art than i can give them but ive had a busy week and want to make sure i catch up with the challenge. perhaps other artists will honor them better than i have been able to do here. to see testimony of the abuse the suffered go to the AFA vigil at the old St Joseph site
  • Day #11 Jigsaw Puzzle

Will the circle be unbroken?
P. Durr 2015
mixed media
32 x 43
this is a total cheat on my part as i was out of town all day and my idea was to put together a puzzle and then do some kinda De’VIA artwork in black over it with the puzzle pieces peeking through – kinda how we did with the De’VIA 2013 mural and to have a few of the puzzle pieces be missing but im too tired to put together any of the puzzles we have at home here so i just went for the Escher jumbo lizzard rubber puzzle pieces and turned them over – arranged and connected added eyes on each, cut off part of a leg on one, added hand for Deaf-blind tactile, partial eye for low vision, and wheel chair etc.
i dont really know if it is resistance – the concept and the wish is that there will be TRUE solidarity – respect – fellowship – intersectionality within our communities and that the Circle will not be broken so i guess maybe its a commentary resisting horizontal oppression / violence and erasing and dismissing and diminishing ?

  • Day #10 Butterfly

Flight not fright
by P. Durr 2015
20 x 16

our daughter had painted the basics of a leopards face on this white canvas just use black paint then she abandoned it. later she told me i could use the canvas. i can never have anything go to waste. last week when we started the De’VIA challenge Feb month – i was looking at the canvas asking it what it wanted to become and it said a spotted butterfly with eyes so i kinda did a wee bit of painting on it from time to time when i would have left over paint out from the other canvas work i had done (see i cant let anything go to waste. and i kinda thought it was done and when i came home today i was EXHAUSTED and thought ill just take a pix of it and post it up with an explanation that it was done last week. instead i fell asleep at 7 pm and and woke up at 9 pm (yes i am OLD!) so when i woke up i went to take a pix of it and it said “NOT DONE” ha – art can be so greedy so i went to my paints and said hmmm purple and and it said NO RED so i said OK you win. (im kinda thinking purple would have been more harmonious but methink it picked red to signify that part of our metamorphosis is overcoming our fears. sometimes we have been hurt and the instinct to fight back or to flee away when we really need to just be firm with love so we can jump at the sun and take proper flight is very real so methink the red is real and fitting.

  • Day #9 PROFIT
    Mask of Benevolence
    Mixed Media
    P. Durr 2015

    description: white mask with oil pastel, markers and nail polish to add black hair, eybrows, eye shadow, eyelashes, rosey cheeks, and red lipstick, behind the eyes 50 and 20 dollar bills – one shows UNITED STATES IN GOD and the other shows WE TRUST, edges of dollar bills serve as ears and Native American like earings dangle form the $. scarf with clock symbol, plastic 3d hand with red nail polish holding a $100 bill. All situated on a black piece of fabric.
    A great many of the LSL (Listening and Spoken Language specialists – ie speech pathologists) are White young women. Their intentions may be good but since they are the front line of the auditory industrial complex – they often beguile themselves and the parents into believing they have the child’s best interest at heart. See Dr. Lane’s Mask of Benevolence: Disability the Deaf Community
  • Day #8 FLOWER

Sketch Birth of the 2nd Wave of De’VIA

no time to make a real artwork today so just quickly sketched an idea that im hoping to make real some day – Betty G. Miller with hat and shirt that she wore in the De’VIA 1989 thinktank surrounded by flowers and butterflies that represent current De’VIA artists / ARTivists

  • Day #7 LOCK

“to have…to find”

P. Durr

assemblage – found objects
clear box with an assortment of objects: real feathers, nest, bee hive, shells, lock of red hair, text from Veditz “Prervation of Sign Language” address, electric candle, plastic butterfly, broken ruler, chess pieces (knights), torn $20, magnifying lens, photo strip, rubber arm and hand on the exterior of the box with key

  • Day #6 HANDSTAND – AFFIRMATION (2 different artworks with Handstands on day 6)

“AFA 5 Handstand”
P. Durr
Watercolor and blue ink
Feb 2015
Night sky Volta Bureau AGB headquarters 5 people stand at the top of the tall steps in front of the fortress doors people at the bottom of the steps in the dark except for waving blue glow sticks

“It’s better…”
Patti Durr
8.5 by 11 black scratch ink paper
Feb 2015

description of “It’s better…”- white scratch marks into black ink sheet – central full length image of an ASL Handstand – doodle boxes / cells at top, weave underneath, sun with peacock feathers and eyes in middle, sunflower in between two fingers, feathers on each standing finger, rays on fingernails, shadow next to fingernails, around the hand at top is a mountain range with crescent moon, falling feathers / petals, arrow pierced into side of hand, dandelion and dandelion floating seeds and a sun.
“It’s better to die on your feet than live on your knees” ~ Emiliano Zapata


Looking Glass Self Howl
by Patti Durr
9 1/2 x 12 charcoal paper with black scratch paper and aluminum foil
Day 5 of 28 Days, MIRROR motif, resistance
sad child looks at viewer while holding a mirror – image in the mirror is the child letting loose a howl instead of trying to mimic the speech teacher
(one of the versions has black scratch image in the mirror and the other version there is a face drawn in black marker on foil)


HandEye solidarity fists
linocut w/ ink on paper
8 1/2 x 5 1/2
(description: color pix of two cards – one is red on gold ish paper and one is black on white paper – HandEye solidarity fist with streaks around it and the word OBEY at bottom)
Note: i know solidarity fist is listed for later in this month but i have another idea for that and have been wanting to put this into print making for a while


Here are my wings

P. Durr

Acrylic on Canvas with real blue jay feather
20 x 20
Feb 2015
Description: white woman with red hair stands on edge of cliff with arm wings spread out, large moon on left side, blue sky, brown red mountains, kissing camels, one red tail feather falling, one real blue jay feather rests on the ground near person’s right bent foot as if running, left foot has chain around it which goes off to the lower edge of the painting, black text on chain “Here are my wings”

Excerpt text of “The Hang Glider” by Dorothy Miles
Here are my wings;
And there, at the edge of
wait the winds
to bear my weight.
My wings,
so huge and strong,
built with my life in mind …

I have made other wings
cast aside —
I searched, and asked and
and built again…
and here I stand.


Edison & Co.

P. Durr
Acrylic on Canvas (with print)
20 x 20
Feb 2015
Painting of Thomas Edison with grey vest and black jacket holding a lit up Edison light bulb and a film strip going into his mouth and coming out of another hand. George W. Veditz signing “defend” is being projected from Edison’s left ear, bottom corner has a red lincocut print of a lit candle with yellow flames added while Edison’s other hand holds a film strip that vaguely shows a figure in each frame. background is a glowingish red


“me as small d”
by patti durr
acrylic and mixed media on canvas
16 x 12
description: redheaded child with brown button eyes pinkish face with door chain as mouth to ear (as is the motion for the sign “deaf)) with broken gold crown on head and bluish white skin for neck and torso with skeletal-like hands fingerspelling d e a f and a black with blue gaping hole in middle of chest. background for the piece is black with some shades of blue.
Note: i added a real door chain lock to the artwork on Day 7 (Lock)

De’VIA = An Artwork a Day Feb 2015 Challenge

nancy rourke, De’VIA expressionist extraordinaire, has established a De’VIA artwork-a-day challenge for the month of Feb

see video of nancy explaining the challenge and the list of motifs/themes and rules.  post your works up in De’VIA Central Facebook and if you cant make a new work everyday – just do what you can when you can and ENJOY

video explaining the challenge:

use the hastag #DeVIA28Challenge

28 Days in February Challenge
Theme: Solidarity/ARTivism
Motifs in resistance and affirmative

1 chain, resistance
2 light bulb, affirmative
3 feather, resistance
4 hand, affirmative
5 mirror, resistance
6 handstand, affirmative
7 lock, resistance
8 flower, affirmative
9 profit, resistance
10 butterfly, affirmative
11 jigsaw puzzle, resistance
12 candle, affirmative
13 AGB, resistance
14 ladder, affirmative
15 blue tape, resistance
16 eyes, affirmative
17 hook, resistance
18 tree, affirmative
19 mask, resistance
20 baby, affirmative
21 nails or screws, resistance
22 hands holding, affirmative
23 puppet, resistance
24 solitary fist, affirmative
25 octopus, resistance
26 door, affirmative
27 checkerboard, resistance
28 round table, affirmative

1) Artwork must be completed each day.
2) you can use any medium. Any size of artwork.
3) Do your own creativity.
4) **Must be Deaf Experience.**
5) Post your finished artwork, with title, your name, medium, size, and description on De’VIA Central FB page.
Begin artwork on first day of Feb

john T. Williams & Restorative Justice

Four years ago – Aug 30, 2010 a Ditidaht Deaf totem carver, John T. Williams, was gunned down on the sidewalk of a Seattle Street.  When i first learned about the case in Dec of 2010 it broke my heart – see the entry Being Deaf is Deadly???

(more info from 2010 – vlog about the inquest –  Back in 2010 i was still a member of the NAD and was urging them to write a letter of outrage about this shooting that was clearly based on racism and audism and they asked me to draft a letter so i did and they tweaked it and sent to the Seattle Police Dept – you can see the letter at: and an entry about the family winning a $1.5 million dollar civil law suit


Photo of Eric, John T., and Rick Williams taken a few hours before John T was killed. Photo from Indian Country article

last year i stumbled upon a short youtube video showing a huge crowd carrying a gigantic totem carved in John T. Williams honor through the streets of Seattle to be erected in a public park for posterity and it gave me joy and a while after me dearest friend of mine sent me a link to a documentary about the making of the honor totem and each time i watch the film i cry

It’s captioned and worth every minute of your time to watch it folks

and yesterday another dear friend sent me a link to an article about restorative justice work and john t. williams

totem pix by joshua trujillo960x540

crowd carrying John T. Williams’ honor totem to site (photo by Joshua Trujillo from

I very much appreciate this article because during all the sadness and anguish over the recent killing of Black men by the hands of our police – i have been wondering why the media has made no mention of John T. Williams murder.  Im glad this article reminds us of John’s death due to police intentional or unintentionally having biases, stereotypes, profiling, and prejudices. Also the article is one of the few that mention that John T was partially Deaf.  it does not mention that audism played a hand in the killing of john T williams but it surely did.  The rookie cop who later resigned from the force after DAs office decided not to prosecute had called out to John T. Williams from behind to drop the small carving knife.  John may have heard but most likely didnt understand and then BAM BAM BAM BAM John is no more.  All the cop could say in his defense when all the other cops arrived was “i told him to drop the knife” he says it repeatedly.  He shot John because he didnt do what he was told immediately.  How many Deaf folks have been yelled at, misunderstood, given dirty looks, smacked, spat at, kicked, hurt etc for not having understood and followed orders that they didnt even know were said to them?  Ah everybodies hands are up.
Now John T being Deaf is not why the cop pulled over at the intersection and chased after John.  Nope – he did that because John was a person of color – a Native American walking peacefully across a city street carrying a small totem and a wee carving knife.  RACE was the motive to hunt him down.  John was not a threat to anyone – folks and cars are going by him with no worry.  Would the cop have shot John T. Williams dead if he had fully heard, understood, and dropped the knife?  Maybe – we have seen what cops have done to Black men in St. Louis, Staten Island, and other places.  The fact that the cop uses John’s non-response to his command as his reason to repeatedly shoot him in just a few seconds after calling out to him to drop the knife –  indicates that racism and audism are REAL and they are deadly.  Especially when combined.  In Rochester, NY – a city that is hailed as being Deaf-Friendly – on two separate occasions two African-American Deaf men were shot dead by cops for simply not stopping when they told them to stop and put up their hands.  It is very unlikely they would be dead if they were White.  If they were Hearing Black men – they may still have faced the treat of being killed.

i totally thank Rick Williams for being such a good soul and thank all the good folks who know i was studying up on that case and mourning it for a million moons and these wee things coming in are a balm and a hope.  it dont bring John T. Williams back or Eric Garner back or Michael Brown  back or Tamir Rice back.  Hopefully it will go a long way in making sure police officers be peace officers.

More info on the honor and companion totems here

Figures in the John T. Williams Honor Totem: (from

• Top: Eagle. “The Eagle flies the highest and sees the farthest, so he takes the perch at the top of the pole.”

• Middle: Master Carver. “This is a Williams family symbol handed down through seven generations of woodcarvers. This master carver is John T. Williams displaying his own signature totem, which features the Kingfisher and the Salmon. This carving, at the age of 15, made John a master carver in the Ditidaht First Nation, in British Columbia.” According to the interpretive display, John T. Williams’s works, and other Williams family pieces, are displayed all over Seattle, at the White House and in the Smithsonian. At this writing, early John T. Williams carvings are being sold on eBay for $8,500.

• Bottom: Raven Mother and Baby. “The Raven watches and nurtures us, making up the foundation of the totem.”


a young John T. Williams with one of his totems (from

3 totems by John T. Williams

3 totems by John T. Williams

eric rick williams totem

Eric and Rick Williams blessing the totem – photo by Joshua Trujillo from

many wonderful photos at the John T. Williams Totem project

and at their facebook page

VIVA De’VIA Weekend Videos

Screen shot 2015-01-02 at 11.31.13 AMMay our new year of 2015 be filled with creativity and courage as we challenge the 2nd wave of Oralism with the 2nd wave of De’VIA and ARTivism.

Here are videos of some of the events during the VIVA De’VIA weekend (Nov 7-9, 2014) honoring the 25th Anniversary of Deaf View/Image Art.

Panel of De’VIA Artists – Nov 7, 2014 David Call, Ellen Mansfield, Nancy Rourke, Ann Silver, and Jim Van Manen

Panel of De’VIA Artists – Nov 8, 2104 David Ennis, Randy Pituk, Tony McGregor, Alex Wilhite, and Jenny Witteborg

Part 1 – Chains of Remembrance Tribute to creators of artistic and literary works about the Deaf Experience – Betty G. Miller – honored by Nancy Rourke, Chuck Baird – honored by Patti Durr, Judy Lai-Yok Ho – honored by Ellen Mansfield, Harry Williams – honored by David Call were remembered. As with Arnaud Balard’s Surdism – we extended De’VIA to honor other creators that expressed the Deaf experience in their work such as ASL Poets, Clayton Valli – honored by Randy Pituk and Dorothy Miles – honored by Paddy Ladd. See Part 2 for tributes to other creators and some new original works.

Part 2 – Chains of Remembrance Tribute to creators of artistic and literary works about the Deaf Experience – Robert Panara honored by Joan Naturale, Nathie Marbury honored by Leah Murray, Gil Eastman honored by JMatt Searls, Phyllis Frelich honored by Pat Graybill, and George Veditz honored by Karen Christie. Live performances by Alona Zfati, Idy Fass, Hinda Kasher, and Christine Parrotte.

Actors portraying deceased Deaf artists who made De’VIA works at the 3rd Deaf-mute Banquet – go to:

Note: Arnaud Balard’s presentation on Surdism will be edited and uploaded soon.


Dr. Paddy Ladd presenting on Deafhood Pedagogies – Nov 9, 2014

VIVA De’VIA exhibition labels

Screen shot 2014-12-02 at 2.25.29 PMbelow is a link to a PDF of the VIVA De’VIA exhibition labels – artwork images, labels, discriptions and QR code (when provided)

VIVA De’VIA final labels

to see a PDF copy of the VIVA De’VIA exhibition catalog go to

many thanks to Jorge Samper for all his work on the catalog and labels PDFs

De’VIA Thinktank video

short video on the Deaf View/Image Art De’VIA thinktank of 1989.

even though this video is available at the Deaf Studies Digital Journal and via the HeART of Deaf Culture online subscription – we are putting it up here for ease in accessing and to commemorate the 25th anniversary of De’VIA

Text summary below the video box

From the HeART of Deaf Culture: Literary and Artistic Expressions of Deafhood
Deaf View / Image Art (De’VIA)
Workshop and Manifesto 1989
Length: 19:07

Note: This is a summary of the signed commentaries made in the video on De’VIA and not a verbatim translation. Text summary by Karen Christie and Patti Durr.

“American Deaf Art”
Workshop was held May 25th to May 28th, 1989 before Deaf Way I at Gallaudet University — Co-facilitated by Paul Johnston and Betty G. Miller

Dr. Paul Johnston:
Betty G. Miller and I became good friends. We were of a similar mind and disappointed about the “unfinished” business from Spectrum. The concept of “Deaf Art” was recently introduced, but it had not been fully examined. I didn’t want to see all that fermentation related to the excitement about Deaf art dissolve. I hoped to see it resurrected again. Betty and I discussed this, and decided to submit a proposal for a workshop and invite several artists. Some artists were unable to attend due to job commitments or other conflicts.

Nancy Creighton:
We sent out emails and asked people to come. Some artists like Ann Silver were unable to attend. Harry Williams (namesign HW) had passed away. No, I think maybe at that time he was still alive, but unable to come. I can’t remember who else we asked. We really tried to reach out to many artists.

Paul Johnston:
The artists worked in a variety of mediums and areas: sculpture artists, fabric artists, those working in realism, scholars, and art historians. Not all of us were painters. We had talked about how we wanted all these different artists to come together for an open dialogue.

The Workshop [Intertitle]
Rare footage of the De’VIA workshop in 1989 shot by Lai-Yok Ho

Dr. Betty G. Miller, known as the Mother of De’VIA:
It was at Spectrum that we discussed “Deaf Art.” I’m not going to go into depth about our discussions during the summer sessions at Spectrum, but as a result of these discussions focusing on Deaf Art, people would leave and these discussions would then emerge in Deaf communities around the United States. Therefore, people were engaged in t-a-l-k about Deaf Art; what they were seeing and so forth. That is how it has been up until now. It has been my dream. Today, in being here it has come true.

Dr. Paul Johnston:
…all these emotions were boiling over wanting to come out. But I kept them to myself focusing more on the aesthetics of art. I put my feelings and heart to the side. These were the two competing approaches. They competed until I saw Chuck Baird’s (namesign CB) painting “The Mechanical Ear.” Really, that work just left me stunned. It really hit me so hard. It really shook me to my core.

Nancy Creighton:
That summer was the 2nd Spectrum Deaf Arts conference. I remember Betty being there and this large circle of people discussing what Deaf Art was. I was very naïve and young at that time. During one of the discussions, one person noticed that there were a number of paintings representing people who didn’t have any ears. Inside I thought, so what? What does that have to do with Deaf people and art? I was so puzzled, and didn’t understand what it all meant. I had never seen art in the Deaf genre. I hadn’t seen Betty’s works or any one else’s; ever As a result, when it came my turn to talk, I said, “There is no such thing as Deaf Art — it is simply art by an artist that happens to be deaf.” So you see I had acquired a “Hearing attitude.”

Chuck Baird:
Some people interpret Deaf Art to mean an artist obsessed with the theme of deafness in their paintings; a “rah, rah” Deaf Power kind of thing or works where there is an over-analysis of the ear. From time to time, I would examine that type of work. But overall my work tends to represent the Deaf experience in some way. This doesn’t necessarily mean it overtly screams DEAF (signs index finger as the sign Deaf, but on the palm of his hand instead), or that it includes the obvious slashed ear. In the future, I may do more work with more overt representations of the Deaf experience.

Guy Wonder:
I’m trying to remember how I began to get interested in art. My beginning is kind of vague, but I remember my parents did encourage me to do art: painting, hammering, and creating. They encouraged and supported art as a HOBBY, not as a profession. They would say, “Think about it. You can’t really succeed as a Deaf professional artist. We’ve never seen Deaf people in that type of profession.” Even though I had Deaf parents, there were arguments about this. You need to understand that my parents were from the generation that had experienced a number of wars. They were born during a war, they married, and then I was born during a war. I was a war baby, and my parents were working in factories at this time. So, all their thoughts were about job security that would allow them to afford their home and to budget their money.

They had a sense of huge responsibility. They encouraged me to go to college to be a teacher, a printer or a carpenter. They definitely did NOT send me to college to become an artist. Because they were not aware of any Deaf people who were self-supporting artists, we fought about my ambitions as an artist the whole time I was growing up.

Alex Wilhite:
I learned about Arabic / Muslim art and how it was different from Western art. Arabic/Muslim art was non-objective art, whereas Western art tends to be personal. Western art includes many portraits unlike Muslim art. In my analysis of this work, I noticed a strong use of geometric shapes. Also, I looked at architecture. My father is a contractor, and I liked architecture and construction as well. My father had a lot of left over steel, industrial scraps, and so on. I would sculpt and weld using these materials.

Dr. Deborah Sonnenstrahl:
This teacher/counselor said, “Debbie, I’m very disappointed in you.” “How was my test?” I asked. “Your test was fine,” she replied. “Never mind that. I don’t mean to talk about that.” “Well, what did I do?” I asked. “Why didn’t you major in art?” she asked. “ME? ME? You’re asking ME? ME?” I was so shocked. Someone suggested I major in art? No. Not me. I haven’t shown any of my art in ages. She really specified that I was better suited for art history, but at that time there wasn’t a major in art history. NONE. Art history is good for understanding how artists face problems, solve problems and their struggle. Art courses contribute to understanding. So, I thought, later I could go for my Masters in Art History. I decided to mull over this career path.

Sandi Inches Vasnick:
Deborah Sonnenstrahl’s great influence on me was due to her tremendous LOVE of A R T. I was in awe of her. She would say, “WOW, ART is beautiful! Oh, how I wish I could draw. The beauty of ART!” She’d explain, “See how there is history in this art? Why? Because it communicates CULTURE.” “Right,” I thought with wonder. She would continue, “See how the Greeks showed us their history in art, the Egyptians, and so on.” She would explain everything in the work. “Look at this ear here…” she would say and then explain away. I ran home and started to look at my own artwork and appreciate its beauty.

We are here together so I am able to start to identify with this experience, discover and see how I’m not alone. I can see what each has to offer. It inspires me. I especially appreciate meeting Betty Miller and the discussions of her work. Betty would say, “Yes my work has Deaf themes. There they are.” I could then turn to my own works and see that my work has them too and feel a sense of affirmation. It was a new idea to feel it’s not bad. I don’t need to accept criticism for that. I remember when I was young, my mother and sister would spit on my work because it showed the ugly side of the Deaf world and Deaf education. They’d hide it. I just looked at it and saw it for what it is –“the truth.”

End of vintage footage from De’VIA thinktank 1989

Dr. Paul Johnston:
People brought their works, their slides and we all looked at them. They’d share and present about their work. They were so thrilled to be able to come together and have space to talk about art collectively. Before when we would try to share our perspectives with friends, they would not respond favorably, because they were not from the art world. They didn’t understand. They found it to be overwhelming, whereas all of us immediately and instinctively GOT IT!

We started to note down common motifs and symbols. We noted what they tended to represent. We talked about the motivation behind particular artworks, the type of materials they were interested in working with, and connect these ideas to the artworks.

“Art is the imposing of a pattern on experience, and our aesthetic enjoyment is recognition of the pattern.” — Alfred North Whitehead [Intertitle frame]

We looked at slides. Everyone brought slides of their works and other people’s works and we projected them up on the screen. Slide after slide after slide — thousands of slides. Looking at them one after another, we started to see a pattern. Slide after slide, “Oh strong use of colors” and “focal point tends to be centered.” We as a group saw this pattern. We discussed it, recognized it, and remarked on it. “Oh no ears, no mouths, or oversized mouths, oh hands oppressed and locked up.” We could see this pattern becoming self-evident before our very eyes.

The Name
De’VIA is created when the artist intends to express their Deaf experience through visual art. [Intertitle]

We came up the term De’VIA. Really, originally we decided that the term would be forged in ASL first and the written second. If we came up with the word in written form first and then came up with a sign for it, it would weaken it. Translating from English would diminish it. We wanted it to be stronger. We spent several hours discussing how to sign it. “Deaf Art” would not do. It would not have a big enough impact. It would be too general, like “Deaf education” or “Deaf sports;” too broad. To me, Deaf Art can get distracted to focus on folks who are interested in painting flowers, still-lifes and such. That is not what we were after. We wanted to shift the focus over here. So I raised the question, “What is the difference between Women’s art and Feminist art? What’s the distinguishing difference, the conceptual difference, the boundary?

We discussed all of this and thought of the sign “Deaf Power” art — oh no we felt that would be too much – would seem militant – so we improvised with signs “Deaf view,” “Deaf expression,” “Deaf perspective,” “Deaf, Deaf” (we always had Deaf), “View,” “View what?” Palm hand — an image “Art.” We all looked at that and said YES. Remember we said finger-spelling it out would be forbidden. We decided it would be a signed name first and foremost; “Deaf View/Image Art,” “Deaf View/Image Art.”

Nancy Creighton:
I think Paul (used P on palm of hand — namesign) was strong about the word “view” — we are talking about our point of view, our Deaf experience, how Deaf people view the world. That defined our focus — the Deaf view. Deaf people can do any kind of art but THIS art will show the Deaf View. “Deaf view on palm of hand as the image / artwork” That is how we came up with the name. We did it in sign first.

Deaf De’ View/Image Art VIA De’VIA [De’VIA]

Paul Johnston:
We wanted to thank the Frenchman, Laurent Clerc, for bringing to us French Sign Language (which became ASL here). In memory of his bringing this language that gave birth to our Deaf American culture, we thought of De’ to give it a French feel. De’VIA — a beautiful term.

So we thought, “De’VIA — Why not?” What about the accent ague? We thought it would add to the impact and curiosity; be a hook and people would want to know more. If we had just the term Deaf, some people would see the word and run in the opposite direction. In all honesty, many people don’t respect it. For example many people run from the term Very Special Arts (VSA). Many people see the word deaf and only see disability. De’ is closer to culture.

The Manifesto [Intertitle]

Betty Miller and Nancy Creighton had the concept of writing a manifesto like other art movements have done, such as Dada or surrealism. The artists brought those concepts forward and we saw parallels; to declare, make an announcement, raise the banner, to make it recognized and seal it with a stamp. So our manifesto — remember we only had four days together — was made on a tight schedule, from discussing, to putting into text, to revising to making a large mural representation of De’VIA. Only four days. Wow, when I think of it I really can’t believe it. We really tried our best.

[Image of the original De’VIA manifesto with signatures]

From the De’VIA manifesto (1989)
“De’VIA represents Deaf artists and perceptions based on their Deaf experiences. It uses formal art elements with the intention of expressing innate cultural or physical Deaf experience. These experiences may include Deaf metaphors, Deaf perspectives, and Deaf insight in relationship with the environment (both the natural world and Deaf cultural environment), spiritual and everyday life.” [intertitle]

I want to emphasize to people that the manifesto is not a rule binding, legal document; nothing like that. It is really a seed to see what will grow from it and see what happens.

The Mural [intertitle]

[image of the mural — large painting, black background, several varying sized subtle blue bubbles, Mask / face center image with three primary colored hands coming out of the top of the head, young child with puppet jaw cut into three sections top left next to the word DEAF, smaller Deaf child with puppet jaw and body aid right center above the word WORLD, hand crocheted? piece curving from the jaw of the centered masked face to the bottom of the artwork to a horizontal piece, five hands outstretch across the piece from left to right reaching out to the crochet­­ stream, multicolored triangle frames the center piece of mask / face and crocheted stream with two hands, bottom line of triangle is pure yellow, four threads run from top of frame diagonally across the canvas to bottom.]

Nancy Creighton: [subtitle — Process of creating the mural]
That was a difficult process for us because artists normally work in isolation and independently. In addition, we did not have a lot of time. We started with exercises, which Sandi led (uses the name sign of “pinky finger waved back and forth for Sandi”). Really she did these everyday, but we started with these exercises to get us moving around and interacting. Then we had a paper in which we drafted ideas, and they started to come together. (Pointing to Betty G. Miller who is off screen) Betty got some of her old paintings and cut them up. She cut up her old paintings for the boy with the body aid. [detail image appears]
Sandi had batiks. She cut up some of those and put them up. [detail image appears]. I crocheted the middle textile in the middle. Chuck Baird saw me crocheting and was impressed, as he had never seen that before. [detail images appears] And the crochet added meaning to the work. I’m not at all sure what this means. It needs to be reworked. Chuck Baird added hands traveling across the work. He had cut those out and added them. Guy and Alex worked together mostly on the background triangle, adding the colors and Paul did the bubbles and the blue spheres. [detail image]

We put it all together. Not all at once. It was one or two people at a time going up to the piece and working on it. We were all in the same room but we’d go up and work a few at a time due to space. We couldn’t all be up at the canvas at the same time.

[image of the full mural]

Reactions to the De’VIA Manifesto [intertitle]

We had this concept of a big painting created as a team, and we called it our big “signature,” like a statue to display. Unfortunately someone stole it. It was hanging in the Washburn building. Why was it stolen? There are two theories: for its value or because they hated De’VIA. It’s anyone’s guess. There’s a bit of a legend there.

We brought our manifesto to the Deaf Way I conference. We showed some of our new works via slides — Betty G. Miller, CB (Chuck Baird’s namesign), and a few other people showed their work. The audience’s jaws dropped; people were overwhelmed. Remember we only had one hour; that’s all. People kept raising their hands, discussing, and becoming inspired. We just planted the seed and took the first few steps. One person stood up and said, “This is POLITICAL art.” We said, “Whoa, we have a range from political to silly to humorous. We are just introducing it here.”

I remember when we first established De’VIA, people were like, “I want to join. How do I become a member?” I said it’s not an organization. People would ask, “Can I become a De’VIA artist?” There was a bit of misunderstanding, some myths, “Its all political…” Really it was so new. Some thought Devia was a word but it is really an acronym. It took a lot of time and explaining. Some people were immediately resistant, whereas others were supportive. One artist in the group confided, “I feel we have made a mistake. We shouldn’t have set up De’VIA.” “Why?” I asked. “Because we are getting such a negative reaction from some people. I feel like running away,” the artist replied. “Stay firm,” I told her. “Do not give up. The first few years there will be backstabbing but eventually people will open up to it and it will become more accepted.” Some appreciate it. Some don’t get it. It takes time – years and years – for it to be appreciated.

Clips of Chuck Baird from the 1989 De’VIA thinktank — rare footage
“I had this dream, similar to Betty’s. Maybe we were under this larger spirit that sent down this blessing, which reached out and touched each of us around that time; 1971 around then. And we met each other and started to influence each other and this was all under someone greater than us — their plan. For Deaf View / Image Art. For A-R-T. Deaf, their A-R-T.

Clip of De’VIA artists who coined the term, created the manifeso and the signature mural of De’VIA in 1989 signing “Deaf View / Image Art” then stepping away to reveal the mixed media work.

Scrolling text:
The signatories were:
Dr. Betty G. Miller, painter;
Dr. Paul Johnston, sculptor;
Dr. Deborah M. Sonnenstrahl, art historian;
Chuck Baird, painter;
Guy Wonder, sculptor;
Alex Wilhite, painter;
Sandi Inches Vasnick, fiber artist;
Nancy Creighton, fiber artist;
And Lai-Yok Ho, video artist.

Deaf Artists Characters from the 3rd Deaf-mute banquet honoring the 25th anniversary of De’VIA

Deaf Artists Characters from the 3rd Deaf-mute banquet honoring the 25th anniversary of De’VIA
Judy Lai-Yok Ho by Mika Hongyu
Paul Setzer by Ray Abadia
Chuck Baird by Megan Burgess 1
Chuck Baird by Megan Burgess  2
Morris Broderson by Keith Delk
Lee Ivey by Danica Metlay
David Bloch by Eric Epstein
Ralph Miller by Patrick Graybill
Igor Kolobatovic by Perseus McDaniel
Betty G. Miller by Brenda Schertz

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