Deaf Art?
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Descriptions 2

Elizabeth A. Morris

False Hope for Deaf Children, 1994
Computer Color Output, 20" x 24"

"Hearing parents upon discovering that their child is deaf immediately cling to the promise of technology in hopes that their child's deafness can be overcome. The idea of a cochlear implant for their deaf child was implanted into their heads.  The wire sparking on the side of the deaf child's head emphasizes that of ripping apart the culture which we want to preserve.  This deaf child's cry shows her sadness over her parents' inability to accept her as she is. A single road with a sign saying wrong way represents the isolation and confusion of identity. This quote 'Not my choice...Cochlear Implants' is a message to hearing parents who have the 'right' to make decisions about their deaf child."

False Image of Cochlear Corporation, 1994
Graphic Color Output, 20" x 24"

"The colorful and powerful images of cochlear implants that encourage a promise that implants will actually allow the children to speak. It markets a 'bionic ear' for surgical insertion in deaf children over the age of two.  My intention was to use the powerful image of cochlear implants in my work to show the promise is false and hypocritical. the series of distorted images of the deaf child represent the fear that science is taking the place of 'Deaf life.' The speech processor on the road emphasizes a look-alike scorpion crawling as the electrode tail weaves its way, crushing cells and destroying membranes in the inner ear. It is almost like trying to destroy 'Deaf pride.'"

Technology Changes Our Perception of Reality, 1994
Graphic Color Output, 20" x 24"

"Is there really any benefit to being severely hearing impaired instead of being totally deaf? I see a problem with the implants even when they work. So much time is spent learning to listen and speak, that implanted children do not learn about the world in which they live. That seems such a waste. I wanted to present more the idea of creativity and interaction. I scanned an original image of the cochlear implant. All subsequent images came from manipulating this one image. The main tools used were filters and Photoshop 3.0. It developed unique image-processing looks that combined abstract typographic forms, giving impression to the hearing parents' visual identity. There is only one choice as we move deeper into this revolution that touches every aspect of the deaf human condition."

Victor Notaro

Cable Surfing, 1994
VHS video, 5 minutes

"This is an evening with a bored man channel surfing which was common for Deaf individuals in search of something interesting to watch in a time when we did not have captioned TV."

Connie, 1994
VHS video, 5 minutes

"Connie had a Deaf brother but she was hearing herself.  Connie could sign well and often socialized with Deaf people.  She eventually died of AIDS.  I made this film about her because hearing people who learn sign language and enjoy being with Deaf people earned my respect."

Footwork, 1994
VHS video, 5 minutes

"I've always liked tap dancing and I wanted to show the rhythm of the music through the movement of the foot."

Oz, 1994
VHS video, 5 minutes

"A story about dreams and fantasy."

Star, 1993
VHS video, 5 minutes

"This is what I imagined what a drug experience would be like."

The 3 Skeletons , 1991
8mm film transferred to VHS format, 5 minutes

"An animation about skeletons."

Tripod, 1995
16-mm film transferred to VHS format, 5 minutes

"I wanted to convey a paranoid feeling throughout this film:  'and it could happen to you'."

Joan Popovich-Kutscher

Confused Emotion in Life,1990
Photo-etching aquarelle on handmade paper, 7" w x 7" h

"I was confused emotionally because my parents did not share their love or care for me which was because I was deaf."

Confusion of Mood, 1999
Etching/aquarelle on handmade paper, 10x10

The three points of the triangle represented my parents, the state hospital and the California School for the Deaf in Riverside. When I finally went to the school for the deaf I had to learn social skills and rules of behavior.

Effect Point, 1993
Etching/aquarelle on handmade paper, 7x7

"Sharp points on the two shapes in the work represent the sharp lessons in order to lead a "right" way of life despite my frustrations with education. The red cross represents my life as a teacher/professor as "right." In the small checkered box of yellow and black squares, the black represents life as a hell, and the yellow represents the good life as an artist."

Final Out Only Deaf, 1989
Etching/aquarelle on handmade paper, 15x17

"When I was seven and a half, they took me from the state hospital to UCLA to evaluate my IQ and hearing. They came to the conclusion that I was just deaf not mentally retarded. This happened even though my parents actually took me to the John Tracy Clinic (a well-known center of speech/auditory training for deaf children) when I was a 15-month old baby."  There is a small triangle in the work too, to show three major parts of my life, my parents, the hospital and the school for the deaf.

No Free Way to Protect, 1993
Photo-etching aquarelle on handmade paper, 16" w x 20" h

"My parents did not understand me and they did not try to use sign language with me. They were not willing to listen to me. They totally ignored me and denied me education. Because I was not learning anything I could not express myself."

No Way Out, 1993
Photo-etching aquarelle on handmade paper,  7" w x 7" h

"When I was tested at a year and a half old and my parents found out I was deaf  but they refused to believe it. The Superior Court of Los Angeles had me officially diagnosed as being retarded. My parents and the court wanted to have me committed to the hospital for mentally retarded for life. When the hospital realized I was just deaf, it took a long time for me to get transferred to the California School for the Deaf."

Point Lose Class, 1994
Photo-etching aquarelle on handmade paper,  7" w x 7" h

"I was frustrated with the learning process.  I was not interested in class work because I never received any education while I was at the state hospital but I was very interested in art.  Later in my life I appreciated the value of education and pursued a college education."

Point on Art, 1999
Etching/aquarelle on handmade paper, 10x10

"Mrs. Fauth, a teacher at school for the Deaf drew pictures in order to explain that I had improper grooming habits or unacceptable behavior. She would draw me with messy hair and neat hair, and draw an angry face and then a face with a smile. I finally understood what she tried to communicate to me."

Symbols in Art, 1999
Etching/aquarelle on handmade paper, 13x13

"I struggled with my moods at the school for the Deaf because I was not well liked in school. I spent most of my time drawing in my room. Black circles or holes shows how I feel when people did not believe I had earned my Masters in Fine Arts."

Tight of Open Feelings, 1995
Photo-etching aquarelle on handmade paper, 16" w x 20" h "

When I was transferred to the California School for the Deaf, Riverside, I lagged behind socially.  Whenever I got frustrated, my behavior was a based on the ways a mentally retarded child would react, with grotesque postures and unusual facial distortions.  I was not well liked and I was frustrated about my social life.  I could not share anything with other students.  Finally, I learned appropriate ways to socialize with other students and had more of a normal interaction with them."

What Is Saying, 1991
Photo-etching aquarelle on handmade paper, 11" w x 15" h

"Most people around me were hearing and they did not use sign language. They were talking to other people and I did not understand them. I was always asking my sister what other people were saying, and my sister would tell me what they were talking about."

Tracey Salaway

Flying Fingers, 1995
7 1/2 minutes, VHS tape

"This work uses computer-generated animation to create a story about 'barriers.' A barrier is an obstacle, impediment or hindrance. It is an enclosure or feeling you are behind prison walls. It appears as an enigma. There is a feeling that there is no freedom to roam! For example, looking through a glass could represent a visual barrier and the probability that what you are seeing is unreachable. Breaking through the glass represents breaking down the barrier! As I explored this theme in terms of more narrowing topic, a conceptual form of 'communication.' We are in a signing environment. Go find out and see what might creep underneath your skin!"

Orkid Sassouni

Two Photos from Book 1, 1997 – 1998
Black and White photographs

The photographs shown were two examples selected from the 27 in Orkid Sassouni's 8" x 8" album entitled Book #1.

These works portray two Deaf persons signing in a nightclub/bar setting.  In each photograph, blurs indicate hands in motion.  They also capture facial expressions in the middle of signed conversations, which showing clearly the earnestness of the signers. This is a reminder of the times when Deaf people were reluctant to sign in public because of the stares they would get from hearing people. This has changed dramatically over the past 20 years because of the public's changing perception of sign language and Deaf people.

Photography is a medium specifically named in the De'VIA manifesto, but I have not previously seen an exhibit where photographs by Deaf artists are identified as De'VIA.

Paul Setzer

A Person's Life Is Vision without Sound, 1999
Acrylic on canvas, 12"x36"

This represents a person who is profoundly deaf.

A Soldier's Life, 1999
Acrylic on canvas, 12"x36"

This represents a person who was a soldier who lost his or her hearing on the battlefield.

A Person's Life Is Mixed of Sound and Vision , 1999
Acrylic on canvas, 12"x36"

This work represents a person who is hard of hearing.

Color is a major component of these works. The first piece is mostly blue, with splotches of yellow and red, indicating the communication problems that often exist at the beginning of a Deaf person's life, arising from either a lack of exposure to language or the confusion of oral and signed communication. Paul Setzer said that he chose the predominant blue because the deaf child looks at the sky as he looks around the world. In the portion of the painting that represents later parts of the Deaf person's life, the blue has fewer yellow and red splotches. The colors of the second piece are dramatic, starting with bright yellow on the bottom, representing the auditory mode. Midway through the painting, there is a large black bar representing a crisis – such as a war – and red drips from the bar.  As your eyes move up to the top of the painting, a blue block indicates that this person has switched to a visual mode after losing his hearing. The many yellow and red splotches indicate the struggle involved in making this transition. The third piece contains blue and yellow intermingled from the bottom to the top, where it looks green in many places.  This represents the life of a hard of hearing person, which may be both auditory and visual. The varying degrees of violet on the left and right edges on all pieces indicate the "up and downs" of a person's life.

Ann Silver

Deaf Identity Crayons: Then & Now (Crayon Box Series), 1999
Mixed Media, 20" w x 16" h

"Centuries ago Deaf people were a box of crayons, not human beings. Through the 20th century has witnessed shifts in terminology, the painstaking removal of poisonous power from archaic descriptors accorded our unwitting community is far from finished. As such, we must not allow others to define who we are, how we should be identified, or what is semantically apropos for us.

"The SEEING crayon is a tribute to the late John Darcy Smith, one of the proponents of the Deaf Art Movement. During the Sixties, he waged an unsuccessful word-conversion campaign at a time when political correctness has not become fashionable. His reasoning was that if humans who depend on sound are called 'hearing' people; others who rely on sight should likewise be labeled 'seeing' rather than 'hearing-impaired.'"

Copyright © 1999, Ann Silver

Cultural-Linguistic Crossing / BI-BI, 1992 (RoadSigns Series)
Mixed Media, 16 x 20

Hearing-Impaired: WRONG WAY/Deaf: RIGHT WAY, 1992 (RoadSigns Series)
Mixed Media, 20" x 16"

"The public at large still lacks major signposts leading to ASL/Deaf culture. Solution? Roadsigns as an intermediary. I use roadsigns to attract attention and to remove age-old perceptions about us as Deaf people shaped by the educational system and other means through which the public receive information.  It is instant education for the uninitiated. In other words, ASL/Deaf Culture 101. I use typical street and parking signs to shape cultural consciousness and popular opinion in ways that statistical reports, legal action and the educational system cannot."

The idea that if d/Deaf artists are recognized—living or dead, all they might have been written about them is heaps on their medical condition—and their ability to overcome functional limitations or societal barriers might pass unchallenged.

Copyright © 1999, Ann Silver

Kellogg's Deaf Studies, Not Pathology (Food for Thought Series), 1996
Mixed Media, 16" w x 20" h

The breakfast cereal box is more than just food; it is a metaphor for packaging in everyday life and a form of entertainment. As a satirical interpretation, my work is an intersection of two cultures and languages: hearing and Deaf—as well as English and ASL. A bi-bi amusement to feast one's eyes on, that is.

Copyright © 1999, Ann Silver

Deaf Studies Soup: DS National Conference, 1995 (Soup Series)
Mixed Media, 20" x 16"

Progress Soup: Manual Alphabet, 1995 (Soup Series)
Mixed Media, 20" x 16"

"Deaf Soup or Deaf Art? It all depends on your point of view. To admirers of pop art, even the most ordinary items are considered art.. soda bottles, money, cartoons, phones, even cans of soup. Warhol was responsible for turning the soup can into an object of art. Warhol showed the public that a can of Campbell soup can be chic. From that perspective, my intention is to elevate and glamorize deaf studies. When a part of American culture is being marketed, it is essential to promote deaf studies academically."

Progress Manual Alphabet Soup is a spoof of the alphabet soup with hands spelling all over the bowl of soup instead of white letters spelling out the alphabet. Also, it plays the pun on the brand of soup from Progresso.

Copyright © 1999, Ann Silver

Will the Real Goya Please Stand Up? (Food for Thought Series), 1996
Mixed media, 20" w x 16" h

Was there such a thing as a d/Deaf identity in Goya's heyday? Were the artist alive today, just how would Goya feel if he were regarded as a "late-deafened artist"? And would he classify his work as Deaf Art?

Copyright © 1999, Ann Silver

Ethan Sinnott

Beethoven, 1997
Oil on canvas, 36" w x 24" h

"Beethoven came about after having visited Vienna, Austria, three years ago.  I had read the Heiligenstadter Testament, a series of letters Beethoven wrote (but never sent) to his brother expressing intense torment and bitterness over his unwanted Deafness in 1802.  The harmful stereotype of Deaf people as dumb, undesirable, and even retarded has endured throughout centuries and civilizations; even Aristotle stated that Deaf people were incapable of reason and logic.  Such widespread perceptions are no more different in today's America than they were in ancient Greece or 1802's Vienna.

"As a Deaf artist I became riveted by those letters, and was hurt by the idea Beethoven would impose upon himself the unnecessary stigma of being Deaf.  With stark violence, Beethoven strains to hear the music in his head, futilely willing himself-like a god suddenly powerless-to hear something, anything.

"Deafness is not a handicap, but a unique culture and way of life.  The only handicap is the stereotype forced upon Deafness by ignorant minds.  Beethoven did not have to damn his Deafness as a tragic fate."

The Last Supper, 1997
Oil on canvas, 36" x 24"

"The Last Supper is my reinterpretation of a classical Renaissance theme according to the contemporary Deaf outsider's viewpoint.  Biblical and mythological stories were a popular genre among painters and sculptors throughout the Renaissance, and became artistic conventions of their era.

"The moment during The Last Supper I have chosen to portray is Jesus' relevation that he would come to be betrayed by one of his twelve disciples.  Instead of the usual full-frontal and linear arrangement of the same scene found in Renaissance paintings, I set the scene up as if being observed by a Deaf outsider in a Hearing world.  Jesus' back is turned to the viewer, who cannot see his face and what he's saying.  The disciples' violent, vehement protestations-as human nature tends to shy away from fallibility and culpability-become more mysterious, confusing even, with everyone talking over each other.  Judas is not made so clear-cut; it could easily be a table full of Judases.  This dramatic event, as it unfolds, is an absurd, bizarre spectacle to the Deaf person who obviously cannot hear what is obviously being spoken."

This work, of mostly somber browns, makes use of strongly contrasting shadows in the style of artists in the Renaissance period. The bright yellow background makes an effective substitute for putting halos around the heads of the disciples. The representation of Jesus as having turned his back on the viewer strongly indicates rejection.

Dawn Skwersky

He Says, She Signs, 1995
16mm file transferred to VHS format, 10 minutes

He Says, She Signs is a 16mm, b/w, dramatic short about a relationship between a deaf girl and a hearing boy in college.  Even though he is hearing, can he really hear her?  Can the relationship work?
Starring: Julie Thompson, Rick Mauran, and Jason Acaro
Director, Producer, Writer: Dawn Skwersky
Director of Photography: Ramon Fabregas
Editor: Yeong Chen

Look At Me So I Can Hear You, 1993
16mm film transferred to VHS format, 5 minutes

Look At Me So I Can Hear Your is a 16mm, b/w, dramatic short about a deaf girl who doesn't know sign language and is the only deaf person in her mainstreamed school. The film shows VISUALLY the confusion that is felt when the girl doesn't know what is going on.
Starring: Christine Duffy Skwersky
(Note: Christine was my brother's girlfriend at that time, and my brother plays HER brother in this short film. She is now my sister-in-law.)
Director, Writer, Producer, Editor: Dawn Skwersky

Someone She Loved, 1995
16mm film transferred to VHS format, 12 ½ minutes

Someone She Loved is a 16mm, b/w, dramatic short.  A deaf couple's relationship is the focus of the film.  As we follow the couple, the loving and tender moments start to escalate into violence.  The boyfriend becomes aggressive, demanding, and abusive.  Towards the end, the girlfriend needs to decide between staying with the boyfriend she loves or leaving to save her life.
Starring: Margaret Arnold, Robert Schleifer
Director, Producer, Writer, Editor: Dawn Skwersky

Marjorie Stout

Sound, 1990
Acrylic, 36" x 48"

"Sound deals specifically with the ringing in my ears, and of the silences that occur simultaneously due to my Deafness. There are endless tones, pitches and volumes of ringing. While some pitches are scant, others are very high pitched, and bold. They float, linger and interlap over the other.

"I have always felt musically inclined (part of my family heritage) but unable to produce any kind of music that would be very pleasing for others.  Sound is, in a sense, a musical composition that is visual, instead of being heard, and expresses my experience and perceptions by the visual imagery."

We Are Brothers, 1990
Acrylic and photo, 36" x 48"

"The Deaf Community is very close within its members of Deaf and Hard of Hearing. We Are Brothers portrays this concept. The photograph of the two boys give a sense of humor and show the closeness they have of each other, as they are both Deaf, and they are brothers."

Culture Shock, 1990
Acrylic and photo, 36" x 48"

"I have been touched by the extreme differences between the Deaf and Hearing worlds since I first became involved and acquainted with sign language.  Although my father is also Deaf, I grew up in what I perceived to be a Hearing culture, as opposed to Deaf Culture. But I never quite belonged to Hearing Culture, and this was first realized when I bought a TV and decoder after having watched as television in over ten years. It was overwhelming to really experience both Deaf and Hearing culture for the first time. In Culture Shock, the young girl in the center of the photograph is a metaphor of my being caught between two worlds —the Hearing and the Deaf—not quite fitting into either one. The images in the painting convey my feelings of the differences of both worlds."

Deaf Way, 1990
Acrylic and photo, 36" x 48"

"My personal perceptions and experiences of Deafness are projected in this painting. The photograph is a silhouette of a person with darkness and lighting surrounding. The images are reminiscent of the static and movement of sound I hear in my ears from constant ringing. There is a sense of isolation but inner strength. The text is difficult to read, as my experiences in communication has been difficult and never felt complete.  The many layers of paint have impeded the communication process and also produce a sense of shyness. There is a felling of push and pull, in my world of high pitch noises and intensity of silence."

Black and White: Deafness with Noise, 1990
Acrylic, 36" x 48"

"The shapes and tones of the black and white images in this painting represent and convey the continuous flowing of ringing in my ears, combined with the difficulty of hearing outside sounds. The text with black on black paint is equivalent of sound that I can barely hear, if at all. The white shapes are bold and undetermined, with white particles floating alongside as I attempt to identify the tones and pitches of this condition."

Eddie Swayze

A.S.L., triptych, 1991
Acrylic on canvas, 30" x 35" each piece

This triptych, consisting of the fingerspelled letters "A" "S" and "L," reflects the pride many Deaf people take in American Sign Language in spite of its oppression.

I. King Jordan, 1992
Acrylic on canvas, 34" x 46"

This portrait is of the first deaf president of Gallaudet University, here shown wearing a hearing aid.  (And, for those who wonder, his name actually is I. King Jordan.)  The intent is to portray the truth of his deafness.

Peter Cook's Hand, 1990
Acrylic on canvas, 29" x 29"

Peter Cook is a renowned Deaf poet/performer.  "He always signs 'cool' or 'neat' or something like that with that hand shape on his chest."

Robin Taylor

Avenue of Loss, 1998
Bronze, Stainless Steel, Copper on Marble Base, 15"H x 12"W x 8"D
(Limited Edition of 12)

Avenue of Loss deals with (depending on your point of view) a hearing mother trying to communicate with her deaf little girl who is following the river of her heart (the doll), chasing the doll and leaving the oral world and continuing on her own road.  And the mother's own hand turns to stiff wood (because she uses no ASL and has no language skills to communicate) and all she can think is that her child is headed down the drain and lost forever. That's why I named it 'Avenue of Loss' - no communication!"

Silent Scream , 1998
Bronze relief, 11½" h  x 13" w x 4" d

"Silent Scream is based on an incident when I was 10 year sold when I was in terror. I knew I was screaming. I felt the pressure pushing down on my chest. But I couldn't hear my voice! (It was due to my continuous infections and scar tissue damage, which returned and hemorrhaged in my 30's)."

Trapped, 1999
Bronze/stained steel/ wire and acrylic, 12" h x 12" w

"Trapped is about the frustration, physical pain and inner loss and rage we all feel sometimes. (It's a personal piece for me). The Wire Mask represents our façade. Our emotional and physical covers. The little girl is that very private fear inside all of us."

Mary J. Thornley

In The Beginning Was The Word, 1991
Charcoal on paper, 18" x 24"

"Anthropologists have pondered the question:  which came first, spoken or gestural language? My work argues in favor of the latter. I chose a biblical theme; in early religious paintings gesture predominates. If God is The Word, and if gestural language was 'first,' then God can be aptly represented as a hand."

Ink Mona, 1992
Ink, 17" x 21"
From the collection of Karen Ozmun, Washington

With Signing Mona Lisa I, and Signing Mona Lisa II, this work is  part of Thornley's project, "The Enigma Unravelled."

Milan, Italy, 1880 II (After Goya's 'Third of May, 1808'), 1994
Oil on canvas, 39" x 33"

"In composing this piece I worked from a tiny black and white reproduction of the original work by Francisco Goya, thus the choice of colors, etc., is all 'mine' although the composition is 'borrowed.'

I choose this way of representing the oppressive attitude that existed toward sign language dating from the 1880s. And that the edict carried out in Milan, Italy in 1880—that sign language would no longer be used with deaf children but only 'oral' methods—was still in force in the year I was born, 1950.

"Goya's painting was about an execution of a group of people. Mine is about the attempted execution of a language (and culture, and thereby also a group of people).  ASL, in Milan, Italy in 1880, was figuratively taken out behind the town and shot."

Signing Mona Lisa I, 1992
Oil,  31" x  35"

Signing Mona Lisa II, 1992
Oil, 31" x 35"

These three works (Ink Mona is the third) are interrelated, part of Thornley's project, "The Enigma Unravelled."  "I see the Mona Lisas being strong, positive figures— which are immediately perceived as being deaf.  Leonardo's Mona is considered enigmatic because we know so little about her.  Her enigmatic smile is intriguing.  I gave her an enigmatic hand gesture.  Before, we asked, 'What is she smiling about?'  Now we can ask, 'What is she signing about?'"

Signing Mona Lisa, Split Image, 1993
Oil on canvas, 31" x 39"

"Some viewers will be familiar with my past work in representing the Mona Lisa as a 'native signer.' In this work I divided the image of the Mona Lisa, placing the two halves at opposite ends of the canvas which places the signing hand in central focus; another way of looking at the Mona."

Two Deaf Musicians, 1997
Oil on canvas, 37" x 39"

"Deaf people enjoy music too; it's not a hearing 'thing'. Therefore it's appropriate--and overdue-to render two deaf players cubistically sawing away at their instruments."

Why People Are Afraid of Me, 1994
Oil on canvas, 30" x 31"

"When I have to tell strangers, usually in a public place, that I am deaf they look at me as I were something like this painting; a green monster rising out of the deeps. I've done a series of paintings in which I used the 'ears where the eyes should be' theme. It refers, of course, to accessing language by visual means. The fish in the painting also has the switched senses; hearing people sometimes behave as if they think my deafness is contagious."

The World As Earmold, 1994
Oil on canvas, 31" x 34"

"In some circles hearing aid technology and surgical techniques are seen as 'solutions' to deafness. Actually hearing aids and surgery create their own unique auditory environments that are neither deaf nor hearing. Hearing children grow up unimpeded by the maintenance auditory equipment requires. So do deaf children whose parents are accepting enough to 'let the child be deaf.' But those children who are deaf and employ some form of technology to utilize hearing must largely plot their lives around the availability of batteries, wires, earmolds, etc.

"For some time I've been fascinated with earmolds. When I was a child earmolds were glass, not the soft plastic used today.  Once I was fitted with earmolds I was told to wear them everyday, taking them off only at night. What other article have I worn as much or as long? And why, when they were so consistently uncomfortable, ill-fitting and useless?"

Ron Trumble

Podium, 1999
Appleply, 46" h x 20" w x 20" d

The top part of this piece is shaped into the silhouette of a pair of hands which appear to be holding a book. It is made of lacquered appleply maple.  The curator of the Deaf Studies VI exhibit asked  Ron if he could make a stand that would hold two small books of photographs, and this ingenious piece was the result.

"DEAFized" Dresser, 1999
Wood and bronze, 40" h x 32½" w x 22" d

The bronze pulls of this dresser are molded from an African American doll with the hands signing "dresser."  Trumble went out to Toys R' Us for the most perfect pair of hands, and commissioned another artist to make the bronze pieces.  Notice that left and right pulls are anatomically correct.  The piece is made of lacquered hard maple, English sycamore, and beech.  The drawer bottoms are done in a colored dye, which is Ron Trumble's trademark.  "At last a piece of furniture that shows ASL in a 3-D form- a mirror image of ASL on a functional object."  Trumble had made two dressers in the past very much like this one in design and this is his third "Deafized" piece.

Sandi Inches Vasnick

Dreamland View, 1988
Batik, 35.5" x 38.5"

This work is a fantasy, "... the desire of a colorful place where every detail in the landscape can be exhilarating.  Color is the most essential ingredient of batik work - and perhaps of all other works."  Note, once again, the hands.

The Rain Forest, 1988
Batik, 31.5" x 30"

The tree-hands shown here indicate that the means of signing and communication are as valuable to deaf people as the rain forest is to the world at large, and like the rain forest, this language and culture must be saved from abuse or destruction.  "'Deaf Education' must not continue to abuse deaf children... sign language is the best way to teach English.  In fact, the only way for most of us."

Silence, 1989
Batik, 21" x 16"

This is one of my favorite batik works. The feelings I placed in this work were very strong, and now I feel the same way. I had deaf siblings and felt so free to communicate with my hands and use facial expressions and body movement. It was during the time sign language was forbidden in the classrooms. I felt that I was hungry for knowledge about life that full expression in signing was needed. Oralism meant "no real learning" for me.

Spirit of Enchantment, 1988
Batik, 18.5" x 29.5"

This work plays with light, again with this artist's characteristic use of hands.  The white hands here seem to suggest lightning striking in a desert.  The artist says that this piece reminds her of a period of time she spent in Santa Fe, NM.

Harry R. Williams

A Deaf Man's Best Friends Are His Ten Fingers, (date unknown)
Oil, 8.5" x 10"

The idea of using this phrase came from John Darcy Smith, a Deaf friend of Williams's who was one of the pioneers of the Deaf Art Movement (DAM). The torn folded paper harks back to the artist's earlier "Wrinkled Paper Series."  Holding up a solitary rose as an embodiment of beauty, the hand is shaped like the letter "F" in the American manual alphabet: "Flower."

Lily, (date unknown)
Oil, 48" x 48"
(Courtesy of Dawn Sign Press)

Harry R. Williams had a tendency to represent the ear in the form of a lily. The massive black background represents death, thus the picture appears to represent death of the ear. This may be interpreted to mean "my ears are dead or broken;"  it may mean that the long oppression of the Deaf culture by the hearing is dead or dying ("the ears" instead of "my ears");  or it may simply represent the artist's increasing preoccupation with his own approaching death.

Mouth In Hand Series, 1973-74
Oil, 8.5" x 9.75"

This work was painted after Williams's graduation from Gallaudet University, a Deaf centered environment, when he re-entered hearing society. His frustration over failed communication between himself and hearing people is expressed as a mouth behind bars inside an open hand, forbidden to speak. Williams was known as an "oral failure," a deaf person who was unable to talk intelligibly despite years of speech training. That label is seen by culturally deaf people as a badge of honor; passing for 'hearing' is frowned upon. Williams was fluent and voluble in American Sign Language, but few hearing individuals he encountered could converse with him. The open hand seems to offer the possibility of friendship and chat but is thwarted by the prison in its palm. Implied in the violent red backdrop is a no-man's land, a hellish limbo. Note the thumbprint next to the artist's signature, which he for a time affixed to his paintings before discontinuing the practice.

Music Notes Series, 1975-78
Oil on wood, 16" x 20"

This striking painting is reminiscent of the scene in Steven Spielberg's film "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," where the timbres of music played to communicate with extraterrestrials are flashed in color tones on an electronic screen. A notation in one of his sketchbooks suggests that Williams may have seen the movie, and embraced the idea that musical notes may have an exact match in certain colors.  With its flowing dots standing in for musical notes, this is a symphony for the eyes. Lest anyone wonder why colors have been substituted, the ear behind the barbed wire encased in a dark orb like an eye, is an indelible reminder of the artist's deafness. The wooden board refers to sound being carried to the feet of deaf people through vibrations.

My Eyes Are My Ears, 1974-75
Oil, 8.5" x 10"

"My Eyes Are My Ears" was the title of a documentary on Deaf people produced in the 1970s by KRON-TV of San Francisco and featuring as narrators two Deaf people, Jane Norman and Peter Wolf.  Williams adopted the phrase and it has virtually become his.  In a televised interview, he once explained that the butterfly made him think of freedom and lightness, the very feelings that sign language stirred in him.  The hand in the lower left half of the frame forms the letter "A" of the American manual alphabet, and is meant to evoke Alice Cogswell and the well-known statue of her being taught by Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, one of the founders of the American School for the Deaf.

Wrinkled Paper Series, 1974-75
Mixed Media,  24" x 30"

This work is from the period when Williams was intrigued by the Buddhist paintings of Morris Broderson. The green leaf overlapping the paper and the circle appears to represent peace between deaf people and hearing people. The leaf linking to the paper—an object Williams associated with communication—implied that art can be a bridge between deaf and hearing people.

Guy Wonder

Gossip, 1999
Mixed media, 45" w x 47" h

A collage of several materials including wire mesh to form the bodies of the crows whose wings contain hands and fingers.