we could say its me menopause but today i find meself very emotional and while i’ve been very busy and stressed i think that the culprit of my tears to day is just some days the ancestors come a callin’ more strongly than others.
so my morning started with some tears and my evening eases into bed time with tears – what triggered them? Well Chuck and George.
this morning when showing a short video about Spectrum – a Deaf Artists colony that ran in Austin, Texas from 1975-1980 – Chuck Baird got me all emotional. Its true it was hard to watch the video after he had passed 2 years ago and then again after Betty G. Miller departed because she too is in the video. This spring i was a little more prepared to watch it without such raw sorrow but Chuck got me anyways.
well, watching him and his quirky funny way of explaining things got me remembering how about 6 years ago he had contacted me with the idea of having a 20th anniversary for Deaf View/Image Art -De’VIA (art about the Deaf experience) and i was like SURE, YES, and HOW CAN I HELP?
(we had worked on a series of display posters on De’VIA motifs and themes for the 2008 NAD conference to show the evolution and growth of De’VIA and of course Chuck wanted more – not just posters but people coming together to share their work and celebrate De’VIA’s anniversary)
Chuck sent out some emails and postings to see if folks were interested and he felt he didnt get a strong enough response and probably was experiencing health issues but didnt want to share at that time so decided it was best we didnt pursue it.
Now it is De’VIA’s 25th anniversary and we aim to honor it with all our hearts and of course me heart breaks knowing Chuck wont be there in person. I know he will be with us in spirit – for sure! But im sad. It makes me sad. 6 years ago when he proposed the idea – i didnt know he was sick and i didnt feel i had the right to lead such a thing. so im just a wee bit sad i didnt do more sooner. I aint angry with myself – just a bit weepy. He did so much for You and for Me.
I’m sorry chuck. real sorry. But we will make your dream come true. I promise.
my evening tears come when reading a bunch of papers and in one response about an artwork honoring George Veditz, a wonderful person has written: “I know George Veditz and he actually saved my life by preserving a beautiful language and encouraged us to choose ourselves. We don’t choose by forcing us.”
This just made me so happy. Years ago i read a quote by martin luther king jr that i latched onto and have not let go “we must have the spiritual audacity to assert our somebodiness” – to me the concept of being encouraged to choose ourselves, to choose our language – this is having the spiritual audacity to assert our somebodiness. it does not come from force – it comes from encouragement and inspiration.
And this wee comment amongst many other things i have to read and do tonight got me thinking of a short tribute amongst many other tributes to George W. Veditz in the Maryland Bulletin April 1937 Vol. LVII No 7 p. 126 it made me cry and it chokes me up every time since.
Makes me cry.
well, im not sure – mostly i guess cuz i feel i should have and could have done more sooner and cuz George really did, has done, and is doing so much for YOU and for Me and cuz so many of us are doing so little for ourselves and our language.
But i have hope – with chaps like these stopping by – we cant go wrong. And there are MANY good folks on the ground so Forward march. We are not alone and we are legions.
just wanted to share how awesome the De’VIA retreat in Olathe, Kansas was. The Retreat, Festival, and Gala were organized by Jeanne Ewald and her superb team of volunteers – really just EXTRAordinary folks. Thank you thank you thank you for making those events possible.
for those of you who do not know what De’VIA is-
De’VIA – stands for Deaf View / Image Art and is visual art about the Deaf experience.
They coined the term in ASL first signing it as: Deaf View (look at) / open hand as if a canvas (represents the word concept for Image) then Art
They then abbreviated it to be De’VIA – De representing the word Deaf but not fully spelling it out so it had a foreign feel especially with the ‘ and also to bump folks out of their locked thinking of “deaf” as a pathology. De in French means “of” so this is artwork “of” Deaf people. The French appeal is also a nod of appreciation to Laurent Clerc the French Deaf man who came to the US to help found the first permanent bilingual Deaf school and imported in French Sign language.
The creators of De’VIA do not have to be Deaf but they must intend to represent the Deaf experience in their work and hence De’VIA is most often created by Deaf folks themselves.
The summer of 2014 will mark the 25th anniversary of De’VIA. When De’VIA’s 20th anniversary had been approaching Chuck Baird, one of the most well known De’VIA artists and one of the signatories of the De’VIA manifesto, had wanted to see some type of retreat and celebration but alas at that time people did not express a strong interest. Sadly, Chuck Baird died on February 10, 2012 of cancer and did not live to see a De’VIA re-treat. Nor did Dr. Betty G. Miller.
Chuck had bestowed upon Betty G. Miller the title of the mother of Deaf View/Image Art because of her steadfast devotion and commitment to art about the Deaf experience – from her teaching, the first one woman show featuring works of truths about the Deaf experience – both affirmation and resistance, to her buying property in Austin, Texas for the Deaf artists colony, Spectrum, to be run, to her hosting the 1989 Deaf View/Image Art think tank, to all of her De’VIA works and her encouraging of up and coming artists. It is a just right and good title. Sadly too Betty G. Miller has recently passed of a toxic bacterial infection on December 3, 2012 and was not able to be at the De’VIA retreat this past July in body but both, Chuck and Betty, were surely there in spirit.
If Betty is to be known as the Mother of De’VIA perhaps Chuck shall be come to be known as the King of De’VIA. He was at Spectrum, the Deaf artists colony and not only created art, acted, and worked on the newsletter, he also constructed the summer festival tents, renovated the horse stalls and barn into workable conditions for the artists, he has also served as artist in residence for many Deaf schools and programs all over the US, was one of the signatories of the De’VIA manifesto, coordinated the international artists and shows for Deaf Way II and has encouraged many many emerging De’VIA artsts. He also performed in many National Theatre of the Deaf productions, including the King of Hearts where every night on stage he created artistic scenes live during the performances.
So while we deeply missed their presence at the Olathe, Kansas De’VIA retreat 2013 – I know they would be thrilled with what transpired. Kansas School for the Deaf in Olathe was the perfect place for this retreat as Chuck graduated from this school and it is overflowing with GREAT De’VIA pieces. Not just works of art by Chuck, but many beautiful pieces by students (see bottom of this entry for examples). it is wonderful to see a school that values De’VIA so much. I am sure without a doubt that Betty and Chuck would be VERY pleased with the three-day De’VIA retreat. Everyday was busy from sun up to sun down. i wish i could accurately describe how truly wonderful of an experience it was. Not only was it a time free of audism, it was also a time free of egos. Folks were there to share, care and CREATE. It really was amazing. The guardian angel of the retreat was its primary organizer Nancy Rourke – i used to call her the Den Mother of De’VIA cuz she is always right there finding emerging artists and simply and PURELY encouraging them. Giving them faith in themselves while challenging, stimulating, encouraging, and creating. i do NOT know how she does it and hence her title has been upgraded to guardian angel of the 2nd Wave of De’VIA.
The Wine and Cheese Soiree in the Deaf Cultural Center was very enjoyable as it gave me more time to explore this wonderful museum and it allowed for several of the artists to share their works with the community. I will forever treasure seeing Hinda Kasher explaining ALL of the symbolism in her four piece artwork honoring Betty G. Miller. It is just a pow pow piece and Betty and Chuck were all about promoting new and up in coming De’VIA artists. To see such a young person CARE and DARE as much as Hinda does ! and for her to honor Betty such – well i just KNOW Betty would have gotten a big WOW out of it. Much gratitude to Hinda for honoring Betty’s herstory and dedication to the Deaf-world and ASL.
Probably one of the biggest high lights of the whole retreat was the creation of the De’VIA mural at the Olathe retreat. I hope at another time to be able to do a blog entry about the 1989 Mural and the 2013 mural so wont go into detail here except to say it was an EXCEPTIONAL experience. Just completely fascinating to see the process and to SEE how the organic kept emerging. How folks negotiated concepts, ideas, visions, spaces to all come together and just shock the socks off of all of us. Just wow. The same is true of the De’VIA totem yet on a smaller scale since it had less room to work with but still almost everyone who had worked on the mural contributed to to the totem also – just not everyone at its side at the same time. Just as the totem has a nod to De’VIA’s for-bearer via the sun logo – IE – Spectrum, Deaf Artist colony – the 2013 De’VIA Mural has a reference to the 1989 De’VIA via the Pyramid figure.
Then to see the totem and mural displayed at the Gala honoring Chuck Baird – front and center and beautifully lit up – i think all of us were just like WOW. It was incredible.
The Gala was a truly touching tribute to Chuck Baird.
During the live auction – there was a very hot bidding war for a painting that several of the De’VIA artists had created during the Olathe art festival earlier that day (the paint was probably still wet). When we saw Hardy was one of the bidders and how much he truly truly wanted that work – it was a beauty to behold. And to see him win it, well that is what art is all about – stirring up the heART.
Ruth Ann Wilding, Chuck Baird’s sister, shared a bit of her baby brother with us. She really just made everything so much more important and dear to me. Her presence at the retreat and the gala just made Chuck’s presence all the more real. I love when she addressed him cuz i was like “yep – hi chuck. We miss you.” And im sure i saw him chuckling his sweet CHUCKle.
Later on Noah Buchholz re-told jokes and stories Chuck had told him. He did a spot-on job imitating Chuck’s style & quirky humor. Noah did a beautiful job explaining Chuck’s explanation of his Left & Right artwork (see http://www.chuckbairdart.com/uploads/4/1/1/2/4112403/1790245_orig.jpg) – especially the witness chair and how we are all called to “take the stand” and testify what we know of the Deaf mind.
Noah also performed a powerful story that had been told to him by his Deaf grandmother about a Deaf girl who had died at the hands of Deaf education simply for signing and how we are called to STAND and testify these truths. Our truths. He did this via his artform – ASL storytelling – which Chuck too excelled at and loved.
Ruthie Jordan also rocked the house by sharing her experiences with Chuck, performing live her lovely ABC tribute to Chuck Baird (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gEKeFvUAGXM) and then bringing the motifs and themes from the 2013 De’VIA mural to life by having these images leap off the canvas and on to her ASL hands to become part of the tapestry of Chuck’s life & work and that evenings gala. It was priceless when Ruthie ended with signing TAKE A STAND and the audience did – they all STOOD up. Just so thrilling.
English doesn’t even come close to honoring what these two performance artists gave to us and Chuck’s memory that evening. I know im not explaining everything and i know im not giving recognition to everyone – its not cuz it or they aint important – its just cuz its impossible to tell ya all how much i love ya and how much i truly truly truly appreciate having had the opportunity to be part of this amazing experience. [i havent even mentioned the midnight ER trip ; )]
NOTE: The Deaf Cultural Center Foundation even printed out a great De’VIA 2014-2015 Calendar
I could go on and on but you get the point –
it was grand and im forever grateful i could partake.
To all who made it possible – THANK YOU.
gratitude is the memory of the heart ~ jean massieu
Video of KSD art teacher, Takako Kerns, explaining children’s mural at KSD (other short videos of KSD art at this pdurr youtube channel)
heye just a quick note of some news items – the bottom one is the worst so if u just wanna scroll down, feel free
OCCUPY ROCHESTER TRIAL
1. Judge Johnson ruled to dismiss the charges against some of the Occupy Rochester folks who decided to stand in the park after dark for free speech, free assembly, and free press (a RIT college “Reporter magazine” reporter was arrested too)
Some folks arrested had accepted the ACD + 24 hours of community service but most of us decided to fight it
a total of 48 people had been arrested (32 on the first night and 16 a few days later) a few days after that the Mayor of Rochester reached an agreement with the Occupy Rochester folks to let them be there 24/7 and this week they have been celebrating 2 month in the part. the agreement was to expire today but it is said it will be extended to the spring since the peaceful protestors have been so peaceful. SWEET.
thanks to all who can and do stand up for our first amendment rights and thank u to all the folks who showed support, gratitude, concern, and love for me during all of this. really im very moved by how good some folks are
NOTE: (added today 1/13) the Center for Disability Rights (CDR) had a meeting with Chief of Police Sheppard with two other representatives from the Rochester police dept. and invited me to join. The meeting was great – Chief Sheppard seems very sincere and dedicated to doing right by Deaf folks and made several commitments towards that end. Thank u to Rochester PD and CDR.
2. some folks had taken the time and heart to send Christmas cards or a note to Felix Garcia – a Deaf man who has been imprisoned for nearly 30 years for a crime his Hearing brother recently confessed to committing set up Felix to take the blame. Felix has written back to some people. i got a nice letter from him expressing gratitude for the card, sharing how hard things are and letting me know im on his prayer list.
I’m on HIS prayer list. this touched me deeply – that someone could be wrongfully incarcerated, experience horrible abuse, and suffer severe communicaSHUN access issues and he puts ME on his prayer list. WOW. im just awed by this. so i hope ya all will take the time to write Felix or sign the various petitions out there.
Ridor has said that a notable top civil rights lawyer has agreed to take on Felix’s case pro bono so lets hope it goes forward and justice is served. This doesn’t mean you all can rest easy. You should still do something if so moved (write Felix, sign the petitions, write to the different groups in the governor’s response etc)
her works from this past year and has already created several to ring in the new year. One of her recent works is Solitary Deaf Prison. I just love how she take contemporary Deaf issues and creates visual testimonies and records of these events and people.
WARREN MILLER & CHUCK BAIRD
4. Warren Miller’s artwork will be the back drop in a scene from Switched at Birth. Warren Miller is a great De’VIA artist who some folks at Switched at Birth TV program discovered via Chuck Baird Foundation emerging artists section. The program has purchased four of Warren’s paintings and he just emailed me that his “I Love You” work will appear in the next episode. Its cool that the program is so supportive of Deaf actors and artists!
NOTE: keep your prayers and thought on famous and marvelous De’VIA artist – Chuck Baird. He has had cancer for several years now and it is tough.
Some folks have been asking me about De’VIA – Deaf View / Image Art
do ya all know how much i love ya when u wake up! smile
De’VIA is awesome – plain and simple.
It is a term coined by 9 Deaf artists in 1989 on the eve of Deaf Way I in which they sought out to coin a word for art ABOUT the Deaf experience. It was a follow up to the Deaf artists colony in Austin, Texas that ran from 1975 – 1980 called Spectrum. The De’VIA think tank of 1989 was a four day workshop where the nine Deaf artists looked at slides of various Deaf artists works to see a pattern, common motifs, compositions, use of colors, etc and give a name for this movement. The term they came up with originated in ASL first – they all sat around and brainstormed and played and came up with –
VIEW (as in point of view and perspective)
IMAGE (they used the hand shape of an open piece of paper or canvas that the “V” handshape for VIEW looks at)
They then abbreviated it to be De’VIA – to give it a French look as a nod to Laurent Clerc who brought LSF (French Sign Language) to the US of A and of which ASL is largely composed of.
Kudos to Dr. Betty G. Miller and Dr. Paul Johnston who organized the De’VIA think tank and the other artists who attended and contributed their big hearts and souls to rock and roll the good stuff.
The signatories of the De’VIA manifesto:
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.
They even made a group mural as a visual signature of their manifesto but the mural was later taken from Gallaudet and is now missing – it is not clear if it was stolen or where its whereabouts are now.
I’ll try to vlog soon so u can see see the sign for De’VIA but im in a rush and my isight no see-see my imovie lately – no idea why.
Just know De’VIA rocks cuz it speaks the truth VISUALLY!
Below are some links cuz knowledge is power and know that in the Dyer Arts Center of NTID on Wed Nov 2nd from 2-4 pm De’VIA artists Nancy Rourke and Warren Miller will present on their work and a reception will follow. (interpreted for non-signers) I’m so pumped. Nov 4 fri from 1-2 there is a workshop by nancy and warren in the RADSCC in the SAU
Nancy and Warren’s canvases have been pulled out of the crates and it is an explosion of primary colors and affirmation and resistance art. Ya hoo! Feed my soul, feed my soul!
The role of the artist is to disturb the peace ~ James Baldwin
(he was speaking of negative peace and i agree)
Seriously – Nancy Rourke and Warren Miller’s art is rocking!
And just in time for the Day of the Dead and Hallow’s Eve, which are times to remember our ancestors, since Rourke and W. Miller have several tributes to Deaf ancestors in this show.
Also this weekend NTID performing arts has the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, which while not Deaf -themed has a great deal of shadows and puppetry and is promising to be a visual feast for the eyes.
Matt Hammil is at the Little Theatre tonight for the screening of The Hammer (sold out) but other showings locally this weekend and next week.
Kim Bianco Majeri is in Rochester presenting on activism and Deaf education – NTID last night, RRCD tonight and RSD tmw
Leon Lim got cut from Bravo’s A Work of Art last night – boo (i didnt see the episode yet but got the news via a friend – will watch it on my tivo later but me pal said the art critics said – “where is the Deaf of you in your art?” – see even Hearing folks know the importance of De’VIA even if they dont know the name for it). ADDED: i just watched the program. Oh, it made me so sad to see him get cut. Especially cuz the trash bin guy’s work really shouldnt have beaten out Leon’s. Boo and Grr but i often dont agree with judges on these types of shows. Very sorry Leon. So glad u were on it though! Keep making art.