Tag Archives: nancy rourke


Deaf Visual Arts Festival (part II)

Screen Shot 2017-05-06 at 7.01.24 PM.pngNewspaper clipping from the St Louis Post Dispatch. Image of Randy Pituk signing to an attendee of the Deaf Visual Arts Festival with three of his paintings in front of him (edge of an US flag, RESIS fingerspelling vertically, Self portrait holding a cat)

to see part I go to https://handeyes.wordpress.com/2017/05/03/deaf-visual-arts-festival-2017-st-louis/

(students painting black on the DEAF, Inc. mural, Ellen Mansfield presenting about her art, David Call presenting about De’VIA as students look on. photos from DEAF, Inc. FB page)
A few days before the DVAF – Nancy Rourke, David Call, and Ellen Mansfield lead a workshop with students from Missouri School for the Deaf and Illinois School for the Deaf.  The students did art activities that taught them about each of these artists’ styles and motifs. They also made a group mural for DEAF, Inc. using Rourkeism (Nancy Rourke’s style of using three primary colors and black and white). The painting looks really great and each of the artists shared how absorbed the students were in the work of making art. They could see the students are starving for contact with Deaf role models – especially artist. There are no art programs in either school for the Deaf.  Imagine.  ART is so therapeutic and teaches so many skills; such as, critical thinking, analysis and balance, etc.

I have seen this intensity in art creating amongst the Deaf men in a maximum security prison that we give a monthly art workshop to. I also see this wonderful sense of commitment and accomplishment to their own creations. Their encouragement and support to each other as the muse and create and revise is a wonderful thing to behold. These types of spaces – schools for the Deaf without any art education and prisons where Deaf prisoners are often targeted for abuse and experience language deprivation – are so important to ensure that art happens.

Art is a visual language that can communicate, heal, and transcend.  I’m really grateful to DEAF, Inc. for making it possible for these art-deprived Deaf students to have some workshop time with these stellar teaching artists.

(top picture – Nancy Rourke explaining how to do the L.O.V.E. painting, Painters at DEAF, Inc. giving a hand wave, budding artists hard at work, participants forming the fingerspelled letter with their hand as they prepare to paint. photos from DEAF, Inc facebook page)

After a busy day with the students – presenting, teaching and doing the large painting – the artists then went to a wine and paint event where Nancy Rourke taught participants how to paint in the Rourkeism style. Everyone enjoyed themselves immensely and I regret I wasn’t there to witness all the fun. And look what they are painting! L.O.V.E. we all need LOVE. (If you click the images – you can see how immersed everyone was with their work).

The next day there was a discussion group about setting up a Deaf Artists Guild.  This idea has been discussed from time to time over the years.  In 2012 at the Ky Deaf Arts Festival, David Call had called for a guild to be established. Since that would take time and resources to get going – Nancy Rourke cleverly and kindly established De’VIA Central Facebook. While not a guild, De’VIA Central FB has been instrumental in serving as a networking, distribution, & inspiration space for De’VIA artists and fans. Thank you forever and always Nancy for creating this virtual online artist colony / residency.  In 2013 during a retreat of about 40 De’VIA artists, hosted by the Deaf Cultural Center at Kansas School for the Deaf, Guy Wonder led a session on the future of De’VIA in which we brainstormed a wishlist.  One of the wishes was to get De’VIA curriculum into the classroom – that goal has been met by our annual De’VIA Curriculum training sessions.  This summer, De’VIA Curr IV, will be at the Indiana School for the Deaf where scores of teachers from all over the US will come to learn and share . See https://deviacurr.wordpress.com/ for lesson plans, motif challenges, coloring pages and more. Deaf Artists in Residencies (DAIR) in schools have been taking off also, as well as community and prison workshops.  Another wish was to have some type of organization devoted to art about the Deaf experience and that goal has been met with the formation of De^ARTivists United. See https://devartivistunited.wordpress.com/. Getting De’VIA works into non-Deaf and Deaf related galleries and exhibits has been hopping along just fine now (see Let There Be Light: De^ARTivism exhibit at Pepco Edision (Washington, DC) (see catalog and more https://deviapepcoedisongallery.wordpress.com/), To Deafhood with Love at AMoR (Rochester, NY) (see artwork and info https://deafhoodwlove.wordpress.com/.) Wanting more Deaf artists of color to create and share their works – this has really been growing – we need more but its happening and i’m so thrilled – Dyer Arts Center hosed the Unfolding the Black Deaf Soul exhibit (catalog at http://www.blurb.com/books/6951862-unfolding-the-soul-of-black-deaf-expressions) and symposium last fall and has a call out for the Arte del Corazón exhibit (scroll down for call for works https://www.rit.edu/ntid/dyerarts/exhibitions_future )which will have a symposium for POC Deaf artists).

pix of Tony Nitko kicking off the Guild discussion with Cynthia Weitzel in the background. photo form my blurry iphone

During the Kansas “future of De’VIA” discussion we also listed that we wanted to establish a Deaf Artists Guild. Cynthia Weitzel offered to spearhead this and has been networking, taking training, and gathering information from various Hearing arts organizations over the past few years.  Cynthia led the Guild discussion in St. Louis and the final outcome was that a Taskforce was established to create the guild. So glad and Tony Nitko of DEAF Inc, has kindly and goodly accepted to chair the taskforce!!!! Very glad to see this happen and looking forward to seeing how it all shapes up.  The Name and the Scope of the guild are probably the first agenda items. I’m totally cool with whatever the group decides but me think:
1. Deaf Artists Guild is dandy

Because if they want it to just be visual artists in the beginning so its more manageable to get going and then want to expand to the other artists – filmmakers, performers, poets, etc. the name will still be fine because ARTISTS includes all of them.  They could even have Deaf signsingers because now singers are always called ARTISTS – it’s a very broad term but if they want to start with visual artists only and stay that way – that is fine. If they want to expand to include the other types of creators – they got wiggle room cuz artists in the title applies to them too.

  1. Should it only be for artists who produce works about the Deaf experience?
    Me think not. And im a big rah rah rah De’VIA person but the reason why it would be nice if the Guild was for any Deaf artists (De’VIA or non-De’VIA, visual artist, poet, playwright, performer etc) is because these artists have more in common than not – a Guild’s chief function is to bring artists together so they can share their common interests and expertise, network, share resources, receive training, get referrals etc. Both De’VIA and non-De’VIA artists need and deserve this.

Lastly, one of my favorite things about the Deaf Visual Arts Festival in St. Louis was seeing some of my former students from many moons ago.  And hugs – getting and giving hugs.  Hugs are good.

Thank you again DEAF, Inc., GSLAD, Mo. School for the Deaf, Ill. School for the Deaf, St Louis’ Deaf community, the artists, the students, and Tony Nitko for making it all happen.

Deaf Visual Arts Festival 2017 St Louis

Deaf Visual Arts Festival (part I)
Art Changes HeARTS

Screen Shot 2017-05-03 at 7.33.31 AM

Deaf Visual Arts Festival
Saturday, April 29, 2017
for more info go to: http://dvaf.deafinc.org

Wow weee!!!!!

St. Louis really amazed me.

DEAF, INC. hosted the first Deaf Visual Arts Festival.

Not only did they do an AMAZING job coordinating and making everything happen – they did it amidst down pours, lightening, and flood warnings. And they were all like “we will make it work” and they did.  I really have never since such a hardworking, collaborative, easy going, down to earth community based and driven organization. What a difference it can make to have committed staff and dedicated volunteers. It was such a joy to witness.

So Kudos and big hand waves to them all.  Most especially Tony Nitko.  Tony was super humble and just doing the good work for the greater good but I’m sure it is his vision and his heart that made this all come together.  Thank you, Tony.  Kudos to Dr. Thomas Horejes, the director of DEAF, Inc. He runs a wonderful organization and im sure he played a huge role in getting sponsors, making it all possible, and moving things forward. I can see that both DEAF, Inc and Greater St. Louis Association of the Deaf (GSLAD) work for commUNITY building and that goes a long way for the greater good.

If you have never been to Greater St. Louis Association of the Deaf, you will want to go.  It’s a great Deaf club.  A very large building with a huge meeting room – that was used for the artists’ booths and another large room that has a big Bar and pool table etc.  DEAF, Inc. had a huge lovely tent for the performers and presenters for this festival but due to the ongoing down pour they had relocate the stage and chairs inside – moving a pool table and many other things – climbing ladder to unhang the banner and move to the new location all while setting up equipment.  I didn’t see a sour face amongst anyone.  They were all like a well-oiled machine.  The kitchen volunteers (yes GSLAD has a large kitchen) worked all day cooking food for lunch and dinner.  There was a huge crowd throughout the day – the flow from the exhibiting booth area to buy artworks – into the social / performance space went smoothly.  Volunteers to do registration, to give out water bottles to the exhibiting artists, to watch booths, to volunteering to drive someone (me) who forgot their banner back to the hotel (thank you Jason!), really on and on – I could list all the amazing things everyone did to make the first Deaf Visual Arts Festival a huge success. I hope ya all get some well-deserved rest and THANK YOU AGAIN.

Changing Hearts Through the Arts – I have always believed that we can change hearts through the arts and that is more and more self-evident when attending these festivals and when tons and tons of individuals approach a booth and look around until their eyes fall upon an artwork that speaks to them and then they ask the artists about it and they start to share how they connect with the work.  I can not tell you the value of this – it is priceless – even if the person doesn’t feel they can buy the artwork – their connection to it is real and goes such a long way to validating the Deaf experience and Deaf way of life.

A few examples from Deaf Visual Arts Festival:

Snapshot 1: Just a short time into the opening of the festival – I went to look at some Hamsa tiles by De’VIA Surdist Ellen Mansfield as I had seen them earlier while she was setting up and though I might buy one and when i return a wee bit later – ta da they were already sold.  Blink and you miss it at the DVAF in St. Louis.

Snapshot 2: David Call was chatting with a man who had two young sons with him – as David was flipping through his portfolio of works – the man noticed something and asked David to go back so David went back until the man signed “that one” and David Call began to explain about the artwork honoring Andrew Foster – the man said “I know. I am Nigerian.” Andrew Foster is a Black Deaf American who founded over 30 Deaf Schools in West Africa.  He tragically died in a plane crash in Rwanda as he was taking a flight to go home to Michigan to be with his family for  Christmas.  David and this man discussed the various symbols in this artwork as his two young sons playfully hung off of each other and patiently waited and watching.  It was priceless. (to see David Call explaining this artwork The Andrew’s Baobab Tree go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H2Pz04_lS6o)

Snapshot 3: While I was giving a presentation on the bridge from De’VIA to Surdism, many people were nodding their heads in recognition of a shared too-common experience of the Deaf-world – the experience of surviving oralism (education system that denies the use of signing). St. Louis being home to three Deaf oral schools means most everyone in the room identified with some of the De’VIA artworks being shown.  This recognition is affirming and liberating – getting the truth out to the public is validating and transformative.  For Hearing newbies in the audience – their jaws drop “really! That stuff happened and happens!” Yep and for the Deaf folks – to know others see that as uncool and bad is very liberating.  And of course, the Affirmation artwork makes us all feel good and the visual testimonies of peaceful resistance – the various parades, and sitins, and social media campaigns – all using art for social justice – made them feel proud.

Image result for understanding deaf culture
Artwork by Alexander Martianov

My favorite moment was probably when the artwork by Alex Martianov on the cover of Paddy Ladd’s book, Understanding Deaf Culture: In Search of Deafhood was discussed.  I asked the audience what the U shaped hand on the ear of the person signified – they responded “that the person is Deaf” yep. Then I asked “whose hand do you think it is?” and they thought a bit and right away one person signed “God’s” and I said “yep so the image is communicating that we were made Deaf by God and that is it” and they nodded their heads and said “yes” and “right” and “true.” This view of us being meant to be or become Deaf and it’s a blessing is really what Deafhood is about and that consciousness of “its good to be Deaf” has really been transforming our communities. Folks who don’t believe in God, generally do believe we are meant to be this way – “sign it loud – we Deaf and Proud.”) Thank you Paddy for making the self-evident clear.

Image result for nancy rourke love poster
L.O.V.E. by Nancy Rourke

Snapshot 4: Nancy Rourke shared a powerful experience she had with one attendee to the DVAF – the person pointed at Nancy’s LOVE poster and shared that her boyfriend had presented her with the same L.O.V.E. poster and said “I want you to have this.  I want you to never forget that I love you.” She accepted it gladly and shortly after that he died of an unexpected heart attack at 28 years old.  Imagine this.  The woman then wrote on the back the date her boy friend had given her the visual gift of his unending love and what he had said to her so she would indeed never forget.  Of course Nancy cried upon seeing this true story. And when she retold the story to a few of us – we all also started to cry with one person signing “he knew. somehow the boyfriend must have know he was going to die.” yes, goosebumps.

ART is powerful – PERIOD.

It changes hearts better, faster, deeper, and longer than any medicine I know of.

Snapshot 5: Randy Pituk had a booth at DVAF – ya hoo.  I can not tell u how happy this makes me.  Randy is a GREAT painter and mixed media artist – he is also just a super sweet and humble guy.  Everyone who knows Randy from St. Louis stopped by his booth and said “your art?” or “your pictures?” or “you do?” in shock.  They didn’t know this side of randy – he has a BFA and he is SKILLED. Anyways, in addition to be hopping happy that Randy is painting and has launched his wehttp://pitukstudio.com/bsite and sold a bunch of paintings at DVAF and will come to Spectrum II – pretty pleassssssseeeeeee. The snapshot moment I want to share is when a policeman came over and was studying one of Randy’s artworks. It’s a pow pow piece about US life and the oppressed. It’s a controversial piece so I wasn’t quite sure how the cop was gonna read it.  He called over a volunteer interpreter and

asked Randy “is this your work?”

When We Rise: The People’s Flag by Randy Pituk

Randy: “yes”
cop: “can you explain it to me?”

Randy: “sure”

Randy explains

Cop:  “is it for sale?”

Randy: “yes”



Wow – so nice to witness – how this policeman was affected by this piece and this engagement between two strangers – all via art.

SNAPSHOT 6: Several folks wanting to get the Deaf Union Flag by French Deafblind artist, Arnaud Balard. Most especially a young Deaf boy and once the flag was in his hand he held it up proudly waving it back and forth with a huge smile on his face.

Ah, its good to be Deaf, eh?

There are many other magical moments that I’m sure I’ve missed as so much was happening – I didn’t get to see a lot of the interactions further down the aisle or in the other row (yes it was that big).  I also missed the performances – wahhh – as I really love performing arts and would have loved to see Sunshine 2.0, Douglas Ridloff, and Abababa (Alan Abarbanell) performances. I’m grateful to the volunteers who watched the De^ARTivists United D^AU booth while I was presenting or videotaping here and there so i did get to see and do a wee bit.

Really just an amazingly wonderful event – and one of the many great moments was to learn more about Tony Nitko as an artist himself. David Call was urging, encouraging, and pleading that Tony come out as an artist and me hope he is on his way.  I always love learning about new artists and am always amazed by how so many talented De’VIA artists are hidden. So glad they are coming forward.  Tony’s art is really good. Filmmaker, artist, marketing director and more – boundless talent. DEAF, Inc. and our Deaf communities at large are blessed to have him.

Will do a part II entry as this post is already lllloooooonnnnnggggg.

Bottom line – THANK Y O U DEAF, Inc. , GSLAD, and all the sponsors of the Deaf Visual Art Festival – you ROCK! Thank you too to all the volunteers and all the attendees who braved the storm and came in soaking wet to soak in the art and become collectors of De’VIA and last but never least – thank you to the artists for CREATING your works, for packing up all your display stands, artworks, accessories, banners, equipment, etc and making the big trip to be at your booth ALL day to meet greet sell and celebrate.

There have been some pictures and a few articles about the festival so check them out at the DEAF, Inc. facebook page. And i hope to put up a few short videos soon.

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 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-FBrHRB9Qg

Panel of De’VIA Artists – Nov 8, 2104 David Ennis, Randy Pituk, Tony McGregor, Alex Wilhite, and Jenny Witteborg https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5Mh-MhPS7E

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. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hK5mgWGmbfs

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. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bEUv6V8rreQ

Actors portraying deceased Deaf artists who made De’VIA works at the 3rd Deaf-mute Banquet – go to: https://handeyes.wordpress.com/2014/11/19/deaf-artists-characters-from-the-3rd-deaf-mute-banquet-honoring-the-25th-anniversary-of-devia/

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


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


Option Schools and Alliances and Elephants – OH NO!

The Elephant in the Deaf Room by Nanc y Rourke
The Elephant in the Deaf Room by Nancy Rourke


so a few weeks ago CEASD Conference of Educational Administrators of Schools and Programs for the Deaf http://www.ceasd.org/ met in Indiana and they had a presentation / panel about ALLIANCES AND PARTNERSHIPS with Option Schools, Inc.  Option Schools are Oral /Aural Only programs – IE they EXCLUDE / BAN/ DENY ASL  http://optionschools.org/


The NAD National Association of the Deaf was there too.  the NAD already serves on an ALLIANCE with the AG Bell Association (AG Bell Association is the # 1 – Oral / Aural Only promotor – IE they EXCLUDE / BAN / DENY ASL and refuses to apologize for its offensive letter to Pepsi portraying signing Deaf folks as isolated and dependent).  See the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Alliance membership http://www.dhhainfo.com/members/ to see that the NAD (and CEASD) has been k-i-s-s-i-n-g with AG Bell for a mighty long time now.


Option Schools, Inc is having a conference in Buffalo, NY  May 18-21, 2014 and CEASD and the NAD will be there.

This is very De Ja Vu folks.

we already been there, done that.

ie – we already tried to work with the Oralist Oppressors.

NOTE: there is nothing wrong with developing oral skills – there is EVERYTHING wrong with insisting it is the only / exclusive / mandatory way to “function” in society and listening and talking create independence.  Speaking and listening does not equate intelligence nor independence folks.  The notion that to speak and listen (ie Oralism) is superior to being Deaf  is bigotry and bias speaking .  Audism anyone?

from Option Schools, Inc website:

Our Vision

OPTION Schools, Inc. will be a recognized authority on listening and spoken language education for children with hearing loss. We will be known for our work in, and dedication to helping children with hearing loss to listen and talk and reach their full potential. We will continue to provide a wide variety of programs and services that will increase the effectiveness of schools and centers that teach children with hearing loss. We will be an unfailing source of information and training for our members, and in our field.


this is so same ole same ole

so why praise tell is the CEASD and the NAD teaming up with Optionless schools?

(we call them optionLESS because they truly are – they are denying Deaf children the right to a natural and fully accessible language and that goes against 4 International groups saying Deaf children have a RIGHT to a natural signed language – http://audismfreeamerica.blogspot.com/2011/10/international-documents-asserting.html)

Why is CEASD and the NAD making ALLIANCES with OptionLESS schools & AG Bell Association?

one Deaf leader in Facebook said with dismay “I put my trust in our Deaf leaders to do right by the Deaf children”

yep. Tis a pity.

why oh why?

NAD is saying its not happy happy about OptionLESS schools inc and CEASD k-i-s-s-i-n-g cuz NAD got stung by some Option School folks in the FLA legislative meetings

bbuuuuuuttttttt – it supports CEASD cuz it supports the Alice Cogswell and Anne Sullivan Macy bill – See HR 4040

(but there really isnt much to see)


This bill was never impressive cuz its like  ‘Oral only is ok’

(which we know it is NOT)

and now the bill has been expanded to include Blind and Deafblind folks and the Blind provisions are MUCH STRONGER than the provisions originated by the NAD and CEASD.  The blind folks are asserting their rights mighty nicely methink.  (ie we dont see any provision saying the denial of the use of a cane or braille is ok)

the CEASD’s reasons for having an ALLIANCE with OptionLESS schools has not be clearly articulated.

According to tweets from the Indiana CEASD conference – CEASD said the big elephant in the room was Option Schools going after Deaf school funding while OPTION Inc said the big elephant was that folks dont understand what Option Inc is about.





not likely


cuz when u put money over children

cuz when u pursue unjust and unwise ALLIANCES

cuz when u pretend that Option Schools, Inc really provide options

cuz when u draft bills that are devoted to saving your schools and positions and not saving the  children

cuz when u create illusions of equality (Deaf at EHDI, Deaf on ALLIANCES with AG Bell, Deaf at Option Conferences) without any demands for equality of condition for the CHILDREN

cuz when u dont address the TRUE elphant in the room

cuz when u dont release the Language Deprivation bill by Dec 1 as promised (hello, NAD we see you)

cuz when u wheel and deal – gala here, meeting there, super bowl rah rah rah

cuz when u never invest in ASL and the Deaf -world – always fighting for things to serve the elite and privileged over the most down trodden of us

cuz when u dont heed the words and actions of our ancestors who have already encountered the deadly tango with the Oral / Aural ONLYIST

cuz when u dont know history

you fail the children


There is NOTHING wrong with demanding that Deaf children have a right to a fully natural and accessible signed language.  They can also learn oral and aural skills

There is EVERYTHING wrong with being in alliance with organizations, groups, associations, and business (ie Inc and Ltds) that advocate for the denial of ASL and for oral / aural ONLY

sure you can go the route of “you get more flies with honey” or whatever that bloody idiom is

or the one about “building bridges instead of burning” them but

the truth is – we dont want flies we want justice

the truth is – the bridge was burned a long time ago and is STILL burning – anytime an organization, institution, inc, ltd commits itself to be Oral / Aural ONLY – it is burning the bridge

the CEASD and NAD crossing over the burning bridge thinking its gonna give them a wee measure to limp a long a bit more is reckless and UNJUST

LGBTQ have not gained the rights they are gaining today by having acquiesced to the oppressors

African-Americans have not gained the rights they have today by acquiescing to the oppressors

Women have not gained the rights they have today by acquiescing to the oppressors


CEASD and NAD – ya can continue down this path and we know where it will lead – we already done played this one out – u r ushering in the 2nd wave of Oralism because u feel there is no other choice but in fact we do have OPTIONS

awake and stand

if u must be in Buffalo – you MUST stand and testify to all the abuse that goes on under the cloak of “restoring the Deaf to society” IE ORALISM

cuz it still goes on

kids are still being rapped on the hand with rulers and YARD STICKS (this happened 2 years ago to a Deaf 16 year old man (yes 16 is considered legal age in some states) with a CI, who said to his speech pathologist – i dont want to do speech therapy any more – WHACK! Take that)

there is more folks – MUCH MORE


OH and check out how effective the visibility at EHDI is working out for Deaf folks – audiologist blogs that Deaf signing folks at EHDI made a parent cry – ahhh inclusion


We demand it cuz Deaf folks are worth it

or dont and SINK

Remember and heed the words of the first president of the National Association of the Deaf.  NAD was founded in 1880 and 2 scores later, six years before his death, The McGregor was still calling for the NAD to stand strong and do what it was formed to do – oppose oppression via oralism.

Excerpt from Robert McGregor's Address to the NADY December 1920
Excerpt from Robert McGregor’s Address to the NAD December 1920

See Robert P. McGregor’s Irishman’s Flea – that has great relevancy today:


In this 1913 classic film, The McGregor compares an elusive and pesky flea to the irksome myth of the “restored to society deaf” which can never be found because they do not exist.

Ella Mae Lentz’s classic vlog about the true Elephant in the room – ORALISM – which depends on falsehoods and deceit and ALLIANCES to continue its reign of error.

AGBell: the Elephant in the Deaf Room



Happy Birthday Berthier

(c) Arnaud Balard.  To see more of his works go to https://www.facebook.com/Surdism
(c) Arnaud Balard. To see more of his works go to https://www.facebook.com/Surdism

Greetings all:

Don’t know who Jean-Ferdinand Berthier is???

– well ya should cuz he is grand.  Happy Birthday Ferdinand Berthier.  We are so glad you were born.  (September 28, 1803 – July 12, 1886).

Berthier was born 210 years ago and was educated at the Royal Institution for the Deaf, Paris School under Massieu and Clerc.  He later became a teacher there.  Activist, statesman, originator of the concept of a global Deaf-mute Nation and the Deaf-Mute Banquets (with Forestier and Lenoir), he died just a few years after the dreaded ICED Milan 1880 congress but had already began to see Oralism take root in France, largely via Desire Ordinaire, a doctor who directed the Paris school in the late 1800s – forbidding LSF and demoting Deaf teachers.


See Guillaume Chastel (French Deafman, who is an ASL professor at U of R) explain Berthier’s three names and his contributions to our Deaf-World.  (English summary is below)


Video is from the Who’s Who French section in the HeART of Deaf Culture: Literary and Artistic Expressions of Deafhood DVD set


English text from ASL video by Dr. Karen Christie:

Ferdinand Berthier is known by three name signs. P-on-side-chest was one name sign which symbolizes the fact that he was awarded the Legion of Honor because of his activism challenging the government on behalf of Deaf citizens. The second name sign is 5-palm-down-circles-top-of-fist-of-non-domiant-hand which indicates that Berthier was bald. The third name sign used for Berthier is flat-O-circles-near-ear (added: for beret/hat). Berthier was a student at the Paris Deaf School under Laurent Clerc and Jean Massieu (name sign: put-watch-in-vest-pocket). Berthier was a teacher and writer. His books were biographies honoring important educators of the time such as Abbé de’l’Épée (name sign: clerical-collar+SWORD) , Abbé Sicard (name sign: S-fist-shakes) and Bebián. Berthier was a strong activist for Deaf people’s linguistic rights and rights as equal citizens. Along with two other Deaf Frenchmen, Berthier founded the French Deaf-Mute Banquets in Paris and also an International Deaf organization to address global Deaf rights. (Drawing of Berthier)

Adrean Clark’s art and info on Ferdinand Berthier

(c) Adrean Clark Cartoon and info of Berthier
(c) Adrean Clark cartoon and info on Ferdinand Berthier
(c) Adrean Clark cartoon and info on Ferdinand Berthier http://www.adreanaline.com/blog/archive/deaf-profiles-ferdinand-berthier/
(c) Nancy Rourke portrait of Ferdinand Berthier http://www.nancyrourke.com/2012paintings.htm
(c) Nancy Rourke portrait of Ferdinand Berthier http://www.nancyrourke.com/2012paintings.htm

 “We do not speak, it is true, but think

We can express ourselves just as well with eyes, and hands, and smiles and lips.

Our most attractive discourse is found on the tips our fingers

And our language, rich in secret beauty

That you, poor speaking people, will never understand.”

(excerpt of poem translated from French to English by Mike Gulliver)


Portrait of Ferdinand Berthier by Brian Thuringer (c) RIT
Portrait of Ferdinand Berthier by Brian Thuringer (c) RIT

“We have been rejected from the banquets of hearing-speaking people. They have

wanted to suppress the language of deaf mutes…And yet deaf mutes have said to their speaking brothers: ‘come among us: join us in our work and in our play: learn our language as we learn yours”… (Ferdinand Berthier)


Dr. Paddy Ladd discusses Berthier’s activism in-depth in his book Understanding Deaf Culture: In Search of Deafhood.  Here is one excerpt

Excerpt from Paddy Ladd's Understanding Deaf Culture: In Search of Deafhood p. 111
Excerpt from Paddy Ladd’s Understanding Deaf Culture: In Search of Deafhood p. 111
May be one of the first Deaf-themed artworks we have.
May be one of the first Deaf-themed artworks we have.

Deepest gratitude to all the De’VIA artists for allowing us to reproduce their works here.

Thank you Paddy for introducing me to Berthier way back when you came to NTID and my brain was just a wee pea thingy re: Deafhood, our heritage and our collective consciousness.  I’m indebted to you brother.  And KC for all u find & share.

We have shoulders to stand on folks – we just need to find them and … STAND.

And again, overjoyed you were born Jean-Ferdinand.  thank you for all you did and continue to do from afar.  We are resurrecting your Deaf-mute banquets as we inch towards your notion of a true Deaf-mute nation.

NOTE: the term mute was widely accepted by Deaf people (many who could and would still speak when amongst non-signers.  It was AG Bell who stigmatized the term “mute”)

In the News: Occupy roc, Felix, De’VIA artists, & Stem Cells

heye just a quick note of some news items – the bottom one is the worst so if u just wanna scroll down, feel free


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.

don’t know who Felix is – you can get the link to the Mother Jones article about his case and see the Governor of Fla office reply to Audism Free America’s letter calling for Felix’s release at: http://audismfreeamerica.blogspot.com/2012/01/fla-gov-scotts-office-reply-to-afa-re.html

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)


3. Prolific and powerful De’VIA artist Nancy Rourke has a video up showcasing (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EvnUW11EJFU&feature=colike)

Solitary Deaf Prison by Nancy Rourke

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.


Still image from a scene from Switched at Birth program - Warren Miller's "I Love You" artwork in the background

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.

clips from a film by Tracey Salaway about Chuck and his art at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPGr9gNf4Y0



5. Stem cell experimentation on Deaf infants ages 6 WEEKS old to 18 month old


im speechless and signless folks.  these are babies!  if these were baby kittens the PETA would be making a stink probably.  How did the FDA approve this?

H O W ????

and Wake the #uck up folks – i have been tired of being the town crier!

do ya believe me now?  coming for a pair of ears near u



EHDI – lets look at the “H” shall we?

Audism by Nancy Rourke (c) 2010

so we got a little examination of the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention EHDI system going on here at the People of the Eye place


We took a peek at the “I” in EHDI and came to the conclusion that ASL is not a main feature in the intervention SYSTEM and doesnt appear to be FUNDED at all by the Center for Disease Control and EHDI (I’m still hoping im wrong and someone will bring me some good news here.  I did find the National Institute of Health (NIH) did fund Drs. Acredolo and Goodwyn’s research on the benefits of baby signs for Hearing babies

boo and crud cuz re: the lack of funding for ASL intervention for Deaf babies and their families as there is PLENTY of research out there showing that ASL+English is a pretty dandy equalizer for literacy

we even have some brain studies to help us see how the Deaf brain works and folks it does NOT take a brain scientist or surgeon to understand that if you give babies a language they can fully understand they:

1. will gobble that language up

2. will be able to learn other languages

3. and that making babies work for their words is not fair

yet what is the NUMBER one language (or if we use their euphemism talk ‘communication option’) that is ROUTINELY denied to Deaf babies and their families???? drum rolllllllllll please….

TA DA – American Sign Language as in ASL – as in a real bona fide LANGUAGE

Yep ASL has been denied, stomped on, regulated to the dorm rooms, summer camps, on the sly and fly here and there but RARELY ever formally taught and utilized in any Deaf education environment hmmmm

still happening folks despite four international documents saying NOT cool – the denying of a fully natural language is not cool but still they do do

aint that odd?  At a time when Hearing babies are gobbling it up and Hearing college students cant get enuf of ASL and its used in outer space and lady gaga is learning it well its just hmmmmm

Greatest Irony cartoon by Maureen Klusza (c)

paradoxical that the DEAF babies are being denied it – see Amy Cohen Efron’s Greatest Irony video re: AVT.  That video is a CLASSIC and woke up many many many people to the IRONY of the AVT push for Deaf babies coinciding with the Baby Sign push for Hearing babies.  hmmm COINCIDENCE you say? Maureen Klusza gave a visual representation to this irony in her well circulated cartoon of the The Greatest Irony.

I got some theories as to why so many systems are hard at work at denying Deaf babies ASL but lets move on to reviewing da “D” so we can get to the “H” in EHDI


In the previous entry’s examination of the “D” of Detection we learned it is pathological / medical model based and biased and all AUDIOLOGY based and biased – you got the OAE test in the hospital to determine Passed or Failed/Referred and then you have the audiologist visit for the ABR test (with or without sedation) and you usually have some doom and gloom and sad puppy dog face from the “technicians” “specialists” “professionals” as they deliver the sorrowful news.  “Your baby has failed the Hearing test” This has even been done to Deaf parents who are like – “Deaf?  no problem – i got 2 others like that at home.  Now if my newborn had “passed” and was Hearing – well that would be different and might require a bit of adjustment but still no biggy.”

But instead most Deaf and Hearing parents are hit with a multitude condolescences and brochures all promoting the systems’ FIXation with FIXing the baby.

One Cochlear Implant co. even uses a freaky monkey as its mascot.  OY!


So that is what the Detection of the “defection” is all about – how do we know this well because the Center for Disease Control also promotes the Detection of the “defective” gene – yep even before they are created they are being tagged and tracked.

and thus we see just how EARLY they really mean in the E of EHDI

and now we come to the “H” of it.  H is for Hearing.  surprise, surprise? NOT.


H – can you hear me now?

So if you take a wee thing before it is even a thing or even wee or once its born and you create an entire UNIVERSAL system that is framed around determining if the newborn is HEARING or not so that you can consign deafness to history and you can remove the scourge from the earth – what do you think the chances are that anyone is gonna make it out of that system with a HEALTHY sense of self or a HEALTHY sense of their child’s well-being.

If you are constantly to be measured by what you are NOT- well the deck is kinda stacked from the get go.

And so we see how the system has always been designed to try to make the babes that hear-not – becoming as close to hearing as possible.

why? well cuz its a hearing world after all.  never mind that Deaf folks have a language that they are passionate about, never mind that they enjoy and employ and expand a language that is more powerful than the sun in many ways because it can do things that NO spoken language can do and just cuz it is dang handy and dandy and just cuz NO language should be hunted to the ends of the earth and banished from the eyes, hands and hearts of their people (and yes i am aware, sadly, too sadly, that many spoken languages have vanished from this planet because all their speakers went with it or its people were punished and ostracized for using their mother tongues that the people assimilated and the language poofed)

so i say unto we, the people – ie fellow human beings on this planet,  it is NOT right how the Deaf gene and Deaf infants have been put into this homogeneous systems to detect and intervene them into makint them less Deaf ie more Hearing  because not only does this endanger the language and the culture – it also lops upon the child and the family an inordinate burden and it often severes the bond between child and parent.

If the EHDI push for testing was to get ASL+English into the life of a newborn as soon as possible, we could say it was justifiable but that is NOT how the system is playing out.  The EHDI system is completely set up to push the medical / pathological model.  the H should be the largest letter in the EHDI so we could all clearly see what is going on but follow the money and you will see who stands to benefit from this whole PUSH.  the Hearing industry, academies, foundations, organizations, schools and programs and meanwhile…. where are they all when the program, approach, teacher, device, cochlear implant etc FAIL.  Sometimes they fail cold (quietly – just stop working and disappear) sometimes they fail hot (loudly and painfully and have to be removed).  All the folks i know who have CI totally appreciate having ASL and most of the folks i have met who have CI that do not know ASL – wish they did.

Brighter than the sun folks.  EHDI can keep pushing the H but eventually most of the babies grow up and begin gobbling up – ASL

so suppose instead of

Early Hearing Detection & Intervention

EHDI stood for

 Early Healthy Deaf Identification (EHDI)

the frame then would be to seek and find the Deaf babies to ensure they have a HEALTHY dose of a fully natural and accessible language right off the bat just like all babies do and also a sense of acceptance and identity as a Deaf person cuz that is what they are.

Here, here for …

Early Healthy Deaf Identification

We getting there folks – time to push things forward

Milestone: We Came, We Saw, We Conquered by Nancy Rourke (c) 2010 see http://www.nancyrourke.com/wecame.htm for description and link for image with hiddent TEXT msg - click image to route u to description, video, and 2nd image

Viva De’VIA – Deaf View / Image Art

Viva De’VIA –

Deaf View / Image Art

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.

De’VIA mural – image courtesy of Nancy Creighton (c)

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!

Link to info and actual De’VIA manifesto with 9 signatories names

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.


ok links to some good stuff:

Several articles on De’VIA here: https://www.rit.edu/~w-dada/paddhd/publicDA/main/articles/index.htm

PDurrArticle2006(1) Investigating De’VIA article


Rochester Rocks

Rainy Rochester Rocks

I know i know im biased – its me home so i gotta sing her praise especially when she has a festival of ASL artistic expression – film, rap, performance and visual art.

The Hammer

The Hammer, the indep. film based on Deaf wrestler, Matt Hamill, is hitting movie theatres across the U.S.

A great deal of the scenes were shot in Rochester, NY and several of the actors hail from here so ya hoo.  I finally get to see it after seeing many folks tell me about the behind the scenes scene ;  ) Oct 27 – Nov 2 AMC Lowes Webster – FREE REFILLS on the popcorn and ya get to put on ur own melted butter.  [i know i know – sometimes it dont take much to make me happy]

check out the trailer and the listing for a cinema near u and make sure u think happy and thankful thoughts that the producers decided to re-cast with a Deaf actor and involve so many other Deaf actors to play Deaf characters – that came as a result of the push from our community and from the producers having a good heart and righting that wrong decision and it has paid off!  The film hits the big SCREEN – ya hoo!



Signmark presents at Rochester School for the Deaf on Oct 13, 2011.  Signmark is a Deaf rapper from Finland.  He presented and performed at NTID last spring – an inspirational fellow.

RSD flyer http://www.rsdeaf.org/news.asp?action=view&ID=611

Past People of the Eye entry about Signmark- scroll down for their music videos


Ruthie Jordan Show

Ruthie Jordan gave a benefit performance in support of Advocacy Services for Abused Deaf Victims (ASADV) Family Fun day where she had lots of audience participation from young to old.  I didn’t attend the event but folks shared how adorable the kids were participating in ABC stories and group performances.  Ruthie Jordan has many talents, one of which is letting and getting the wee things to shine and show of their grand ASL and their and its potential.

Nancy Rourke and Warren Miller


Nancy Rourke and Warren Miller will have their Deaf View / Image Art (De’VIA) works exhibited in the NTID Dyer Arts Center at the end of October and into November. Both of them have produced  powerful, dynamic, colorful, and informative works.  Hope you can come and see.

In addition, Sander Blondeel, of Belgium, has his photography work on exhibit now and Matt Daigle, Deaf cartoonist will have a show up soon also.

Viva artistic expressions of Deafhood whether it be via film, rap, performance, or visual art!.

Rainy Rochester Rocks

DBC’s letter to AG Bell Association Board

Heye all –

as u know or SHOULD know – the AG Bell Association has been sending out unwanted and insulting temporary “free” membership cards/letters to staff at Deaf schools (see past entries for pix and info by clicking the links below)

¡Ya basta! AGBell and Blue Tape

WTF AGB – wow the nerves of u!

To see other letters to AG Bell Association’s CEO Alexander Graham and Communications director Susan Boswell – click the side bar or key in the names in the search box in this blog site (thank you Jenny Witteborg, Karen Christie, Ruthie Jordan, Michele Westfall, Barb DiGi, Dianrez, Paul Kiel, Dr. Kannapell, Nancy  Rourke, Karen Kingrey, Antonia Rathbun, Gene DiVincenzo, and Dr. Grushkin)

Hoping the CAID (Convention of American Instructors of the Deaf) and NAD (National Association of the Deaf) will send something too.

The Deaf Bilingual  Coalition has just released its letter to AG Bell and can be seen at their website or below

Just FYI – The Deaf Bilingual  Coalition has a great petition up re: the bilingual-bicultural birthrights of Deaf children

Big thanks to the DBC for its unending STAND for justice and equality.

——————-DBC letter to the AG Bell Association Board ————-

August 13, 2011

The Board of AGBell Association,

Recently your organization sent out solicitation letters to teachers of the Deaf at Deaf Schools across the country. The letters contained a “temporary” free membership card to staff at these schools. These letters were not only unwanted they were offensive and mis-labeled teachers as “hearing specialists”. They are, in fact, highly trained professionals. Their job has nothing to do with hearing but has everything to do with educating the mind and the whole child.

Many of these very same teachers who you sent letters to were actually victims of your listening and speaking/oral ONLY propaganda tactics used on their parents. Many may not have found ASL or their identity as a Deaf person until much later in their lives after much personal damage had been done.

The havoc that your organization continues to maintain in the lives of Deaf children by limiting their exposure to the visual language of ASL through misleading propaganda is unacceptable. Deaf children have the right to fluency in language and to be bilingual in both ASL and English.

Stop promoting exclusive oral-only approaches to language acquisition for Deaf children and include ASL equally in the education of all Deaf children, including those who have cochlear implants or residual hearing. This might be your better bet to recruiting Teachers of the Deaf.

The Deaf Bilingual Coalition