Monthly Archives: January 2015

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 2015
Theme: Soliditary/ARTivism
Motifs in resistance and affirmative
Number of Participants: 55 (5 from Europe) 1 hearing mother of Deaf child and 1 CODA
Total number of artworks: 677
Most popular theme: Resistance

to see all the artworks made for each motif day go to De’VIA central fb or for PDFs

De’VIA MOTIFS –Resistance and Affirmative themes

Motifs with descriptions (see below or go to pdf (click link) DeVIA MOTIFS
chain, resistance tied down, ASL prohibited, trapped, colonialized, audism.
light bulb, affirmative hope, light so deaf people can see.
feather, resistance parroting, audism, speech therapy, deaf disempowerment.
hand, affirmative hand refers to something that you value of, your hand, to be proud of, cherish, love, ASL. HAND.
mirror, resistance two face, mask of benevolence, two way mirror, what do you see in the mirror that others do not see? or something that you see turns out different.
handstand, affirmative We take a stand, stand for our rights, do something, get involved in the community. We take pride. We stand for solidarity.
lock, resistance Lock refers to being trapped, limited, or to something that is unknown or secret.
flower, affirmative Flower refers to new life, Deafhood, happiness, fragrance, someone to remember. hope.
profit, resistance Profit motif refers to making money off of Deaf bodies. It refers to dollar sign $, so when you make art, it has to be resistance theme, meaning making money, they profit. Another example, for profiting could go to cultural appropriation. It is a political art.
butterfly, affirmative Butterfly refers to Deafhood, journey, acceptance, identity, happiness. jigsaw puzzle, resistance Jigsaw puzzle refers to disempowerment, something is missing, and mystery.
candle, affirmative Candle refers to paying a tribute to, to honour, to remember, to respect, to light, and light Deaf people can see.
AGB, resistance AGB refers to Alexander Graham Bell, oralism, audism, mask of benevolence, anything that you can think of that associates with AGB.
ladder, affirmative Ladder is inspired by Debbie Rennie’s poem “Black Hole: Color ASL” She used a ladder concept in her poem. It is really a beautiful ASL literature. Ladder is a symbol, that shows a way into a Deaf community. Always remember this, to climb up the ladder, is positive. If you climb down, it is negative.
blue tape, resistance Blue tape refers to crossed out, trapped, prohibited, mask of benevolence, tied down, audism, oppression. I use the blue tape symbol in many of my paintings.
eyes, affirmative Eye refers to visual, Deaf people rely on visual, Eyeth, a symbol for Deaf people. hook, resistance Hook refers to being colonized, can’t “escape”, you were forced by, it can also be
eugenic, audism, oralism abuse, brutal discipline. You can use fish hook, wall hook that you hang picture, coat hook, etc.
tree, affirmative Tree refers to life and roots.
mask, resistance Mask symbolizes lies, truth to be told, two faced, hypotrict (sp), mask of Benvolence, hidden, secret.
baby, affirmative Baby symbolizes Deaf rights, journey, Deafhood, protection, comfort and Deaf community.
nails or screws, resistance David Call symbolizes screws in his “Your Joy, My Pain” and nails in “Crucifixion of Sign Language” linocuts. Screws represent surgical solution to “deafness” as in drilling and installing CI with screws and nails represent destruction of Deaf community, identity, natural language so on as in nails of “The Crucifixicion of Sign Language”. I see nail as an attention, alert, warning, wake up call like you go around town or campus and post something important. Screw is something different I think. It is something permanent and painful.
hands holding, affirmative hanging in there, you are comforted, someone is there for you, secured, support you.
puppet, resistance Puppet symbolizes colonialism, submissive, passive, audism.
solidarity fist, affirmative Solidarity fist refers to a group of artivists/activists team together, work together to stand and fight for good cause. It must be affirmative.
octopus, resistance Octopus symbolizes something very big and power seizes over Deaf communities, Deaf world, Deaf society. Takes over, control everything.
door, affirmative Door symbolizes Deafhood journey, enter into your world, a welcome feel, seeking, something about the door.
checkerboard, resistance Checkerboard symbolizes repetition, a pattern, can go crazy, nightmare, clone, seems to get lost abit, that sorta thing.
roundtable, affirmative symbolizes Deaf people can see each other. A gathering together. BIRDHOUSE- affirmative- David’s motif, that refers to Deaf community, close knitted, family. ARROW- resistance- attacking, harming, trying to kill or stop or destroy. NEST- affirmative- home, safety, family, birth, future, deaf community.
BUTTON EYES- resistance- no visual acuity or input, no state of agency or autonomy, a doll, toy, void of independence.
PLAGUE DOCTOR- resistance- is a quack doctor selling false hope to desperate parents for profit. MONEY BAG- resistance- is for profit and greed. PLAGUE DOCTOR HAT- resistance- same as quack doctor. SKULL- resistance- is for eugenics.
MOTHER of ALL DEAF SOULS- affirmative- natural sign language, strength, purity, Deaf birthright, preservation of Deaf communities for generations to come. Mother of All Deaf Souls is a mythical fertile mother of all Deaf Souls. She is an entity that can come in different life forms such as Deaf Baobab Tree graphite/color pencil, Elder shaman in “First Kitchen Table Conversation” color pencil, Alice Cogswell in “Me Your Mother”, “Liberation”, and “Harmony in Silence” linocuts and so on. (David Call)
FAN- resistance- speech practice, repetitive, speech therapy, sense of air coming from mouth.
MOUTH- resistance- represented the majority group-hearing people, spoken language, speech, aura- oral, methods.
STAIRWAY-liberation- life is a journey, sometimes we face difficulty because of expectation from the society, walk up to reach the goal or collapse on the stairway, a missing puzzle feeling “always looking” for a destination.
HANDSHAPE- affirmative- sign language SPEECH THERAPY-resistance- Airplane, baseball, ice cream, apple, hotdog.
HAMMER or SLEDGEHAMMER-resistance- hammer or sledgehammer motif to resist or break down oppression.
STRINGS- resistance-tied down, audism, trapped, colonialism, Deaf person as a puppet. BLACK HOLE- resistance- invasion, attacking, Second Wave of Oralism, Deaf Disempowerment.
MOUNTAIN- affirmative/liberation- Paddy Ladd’s quote, artists keep building mountains to prevent oralism invasion.
HORSE-resistance- from the idiom “Whip a Dead Horse”, AGB whips a Deaf horse. Horse is Deaf people who have been abused by oralism.
MIDDLE FINGER- resistance-curse, political, censorship. Harlequin/Jester- resistance-joker, pathetic liar, abuser. CROWN-

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

John T. Williams mural – info

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

image frome
image frome

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