Morris Broderson: The Passing of a Deaf Artist

I just learned of the passing of a great Deaf American artist – Morris Broderson.

Broderson passed away on January 4, 2011 at the age of 82.  He had attended the California School for the Deaf and was encouraged and  celebrated as an artist by his aunt, gallery owner Joan Ankrum.  Broderson was later represented by his cousin, David Ankrum.  As stated in the Los Angeles Times’ obituary:

His exquisite water colors and oil paintings are in hundreds of private collections, worldwide, as well as in the permanent collections of Gallaudet College and the Joseph Hirshhorn Museums in Washington, D.C., The Whitney and the Guggenheim Museums in New York, The Los Angeles County Museum and NTID, at the Rochester Institute of Technology, to name only a few.

Even though Broderson did not self-identify with the Deaf View / Image Art (De’VIA) movement, many of his works featured fingerspelling and Deaf themes.  A short 1989 video clip displays Broderson’s fancy fingerspelling while discussing his works.

Visit this website with links to his gallery and other info including a touching tribute by Borderson’s good friend, Bernard Bragg.   I have been blessed to see many of his original works as the NTID Dyer Arts Center owns several pieces and recently acquired many of Broderson figure drawing sketches.  Reproductions on the internet do not do justice to his mastery nor do they fully represent the detail and skill of his hands.  A few years ago when in Fremont, I visited the California School for the Deaf’s archives and was transfixed by one of Broderson’s portraits of Anne Frank.  This particular one featured a tree image growing in the middle of Anne’s chest and I longed for it so badly a temptation came upon me that made me know just how powerful art can be.  It was an haunting and soulful work that kept calling me to study it while i looked at all the other gems in the archives.  Many notable artists have hailed from CSD (D’Estrella, Tilden, Redmond, and Kowalewski just to name a few) but Broderson is probably the one who has been the most exhibited and celebrated.

Broderson had an exceptional gift and examined a variety of mediums, motifs, and messages over the span of his long career as an artist.  I regret that I never had the good fortune to meet him but I am very thankful that i had the opportunity to know him a bit via his art.

Link to transcript of interview:

Archives of American Art: Oral History Interview w/ Morris Borderson 1998

(examples of two of Broderson’s works gracing the cover of books)

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Karen Mayes
    Jan 17, 2011 @ 11:25:14

    I hope that there’d be an anthology book of his artwork coming out soon so that we all could have a good idea of how amazingly talented he was. I found a link with color artwork which is WOW…

  2. handeyes
    Jan 17, 2011 @ 12:20:58


    thank u thank u thank u for the link. yesterday it wasnt working. Wasnt sure when it would be back up and ta da – u found it. Ill put the link up in the blog entry above and i thank u again

    the main page of the site has more info etc:

    and will route to the color images gallery

    i agree a book of his work would be a must have

    NTID has many gorgeous pieces of his so hopefully they will have a show in the future



  3. Robert Nelson
    Jul 18, 2011 @ 14:30:41

    I have a few of Morris Broderson’s pieces and several small sketches. Do you think that there will be a showing of his work soon? Is there a market value? Robert Nelson

  4. Beverley Hogan
    May 17, 2017 @ 05:19:38

    I need to reach Bernard Bragg ! It is about one of Morris Broderson’s Painting that I own!

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