Happy Belated B-Day Betty

All art is a kind of confession, more or less oblique. All artists, if they are to survive, are forced, at last, to tell the whole story, to vomit the anguish up. ~ James Baldwin

Heye all –

did ya miss me?

Life has been quiet here at the People of the Eye as we all were busy making noise while we made the invisible visible in DC then i was off to the hill with me clan.  mighty fine mighty fine.  All of it  – so to each and all who did, do and will for ever more STAND. You are GRAND.  now take a bow and get busy some more ; )

And speaking of standing –

Dr. Betty G. Miller had another birthday the other day.  Ya hoo and congrats and so glad you were born Betty.  The art world would not be the same with out your vision, fortitude, brave heart, and good courage.

Betty has been and is the ultimate truthseeker and signer.  She will not be denied.  No way no how!

and how she shines – shines in spirit, shines in faith, shines in truth and has shined a spot light on that which is unjust and untrue and that which is grand and beautiful.

Betty has been labeled just about everything – angry, bitter, etc etc but if u meet her u will see she is pure love and honey smile.  She just is truthful (see her pow pow work “Ameslan Prohibited” – oppression aint cool folks) – and for some folks that is toxic.

if ya dont know who Betty G Miller is or what Deaf View/Image Art (De’VIA) is – shame on ya.  And keep readinb below.  knowledge is power folks.  read ’em, and weep for all that u have been denied (ASL and the right to know the good folks who have come before us and that we have an ART FORM of our own!) and weep for joy for all the folks who have stood long and strong.  Brave-hearts we got.

(and on a side note – in 2008 NTID held a huge one woman show of Betty G. Miller’s work and also the works of her Deaf father Ralph Miller – who Betty inspired to do De’VIA works late in life.  when we had her over for a potluck at our place with a bunch of local great Deaf folks who love art and activism – it was a blustery dark fall evening and when she was blown in through the doorway with her hat, cane, shawl and her partner Nancy Creighton lovingly close behind – my Z turned to me and fingerspelled – “is that Mrs. Whatsit?” to which i laughed very hard.  Betty truly does have mystical powers.  There is no doubt in me mind)

Note: the below is from a Clerc Scar write up i did in 2009 but the 75th has been changed to 77th at bottom and links added.

Portrait of Dr. Betty G. Miller

Betty was given this title–the mother of De’VIA–by Chuck Baird for being one of the first known Deaf artists to create a strong body of work about the Deaf experience. Betty was born to Deaf parents, one of which was a commercial artist–Ralph Miller. Ralph would later follow in his daugher’s footsteps and create De’VIA works. Even though Betty received ASL in the home, as a hard-of-hearing person she was subjected to an oral-aural education. Many of her works resist oppression by exposing the audism behind such programs. In addition to having the first solo show of works focusing on the Deaf experience, she also was instrumental to the mid-1970s Deaf artists colony called Spectrum. It was based in Austin, Texas.

Betty was also a pivotal figure in bringing together the group of Deaf artists that coined the term Deaf View / Image Art (De’VIA) and composed the manifesto in 1989. A few of Betty and her father’s original paintings can be purchased via Etsy: http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5671697 Her works are also reproduced in calendar, t-shirt, or other forms, available for purchase at http://www.cafepress.com/purpleswirlarts/

Deaf collectors, organizations and institutions should definitely consider investing in a Betty G. Miller original. De’VIA artists need and deserve patrons. The activism and creativity that Dr. Miller has invested in documenting and commenting on the Deaf experience via her artworks has been critical in giving a visual voice to our collective experiences.

Birth of a Deaf Woman Painting by Bettigee

Birth of a Deaf Woman by Betty G. Miller

The artwork explored in this Tour is “Birth of a Deaf Woman” by Betty G. Miller.

The large square canvas’ central figure taking up most of the composition is a full-figured woman in hues of pink. Her face has a quiet intensity with her eyes looking downward, almost closed, deep in concentration. Around her head are ripples of blues and pink. They give a dynamic feeling of energy radiating out from her–almost forming a halo. The hands of the woman are the focal point of the painting. They are positioned as if beginning to sign the word “birth.” The contour of the “birth” handshape is echoed in the outline of the pubic area. Some people upon viewing this work, comment on seeing a double image in the woman’s right arm–the outline of a baby beginning to nurse.

This work sends an affirmative message about womanhood and Deafhood. The nude figure references nature, organic beauty, and the power of birth. Deeper meaning from the title and subject matter, references our ability to be re-born as we journey to our center and our true selves. Many indigenous cultures depict mother nature and humanity as a feminine, nurturing goddess-like form. “Birth of a Deaf Woman” taps into that universal imagery and creation mythology. While this work is not a self-portrait, we are certainly glad that Betty created it.

Happy 77th birthday Betty, the mother of De’VIA–we are so glad you were born.

Note: article about the work of Betty G Miller and Susan Dupor

Deconstructing the Forced Assimilation of Deaf People Via De’VIA Resistance and Affirmation Art

also see Emily Steinberg’s film “Paint it Loud” http://deaftv.bigcartel.com/product/paint-it-loud

Now, it is true that the nature of society is to create, among its citizens, an illusion of safety; but it is also absolutely true that the safety is always necessarily an illusion. Artists are here to disturb the peace. ~ James Baldwin

Thank you betty for engaging in positive peace by disturbing false / negative peace

I love you! and you too Nancy!




1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Sallie Mae
    Jul 30, 2011 @ 12:44:41

    Very Beautiful Story and Well said about her…Thank to U, Patti Durr!

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