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1993 Deaf Artists' Exhibit

Deaf Artists' Exhibit, A Perspective of Deaf Culture Through Art, Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill, MA, September 1-30, 1993
Curated by Brenda Schertz and Jane Nunes

Gallery Guide


How this exhibit came into being

In the fall of 1992, Jane Nunes, Director of Special Services for Deaf and Hard of Hearing People, was thinking about what to do for a Deaf Awareness exhibit at Northern Essex Community College.  Rather than scheduling "the usual stuff," such as demonstrations of TTYs and other devices used by Deaf people, she decided to do something radically different.  She met with Arthur Signorelli, Director of Student Activities, and presented the concept of an art exhibition containing works by Deaf artists.  Signorelli loved the idea and reserved gallery space for September, 1993.  Ms. Nunes was given two months to find out how to contact Deaf artists.

At about the same time, Brenda Schertz, then studying at the Art Institute of Boston, was working on an independent study project to examine the theory of De'VIA, the DeafView/Image Art set forth in a manifesto created by a group of Deaf artists during Deaf Way, at Gallaudet in 1989.  (See page 4 for a copy of this manifesto.)  Brenda was to write a five-page paper and make a slide presentation of Deaf artists who create works related to the Deaf experience or culture.

Kathy Vesey, Director of the Gallaudet University Regional Center at NECC, who worked closely with Jane, knew Brenda from working with her on a separate project at DEAF, Inc.  She loved the idea and realized that a meeting of these two women could lead to a fruitful partnership.  That meeting led to the creation of the exhibit team and the show you are now seeing.

The goals of the exhibit

Jane Nunes wanted an exhibit that would illuminate the Deaf culture through a visual medium,

accessible to both Deaf and hearing audiences.  She felt that an art exhibit would be an ideal way to do this, and that it would in any case be superior to simply asking people to walk around tables laden with various devices.  The fact that this exhibit includes works from eight different artists that will be displayed through the entire month of September makes possible a much greater impact than could be obtained with the usual types of Deaf Awareness exhibits.

Brenda Schertz finds this exhibit the perfect culmination of her research project, and is delighted to be able to share her findings with as wide an audience as possible.  Brenda, whose love of art is also shown in the ASL tours of various exhibits that she conducts for the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, thinks that she would like nothing better than conducting such a tour of the works of Deaf artists.

The purpose of this Gallery Guide

Many nuances of the works included in this exhibit may be difficult to discern without knowledge of the issues and perceptions common to members of the Deaf community.  This guide is intended to provide certain minimum information concerning the ways in which each work is relevant to the Deaf culture or experience.

People who are already knowledgeable about the Deaf culture may find this guide helpful in obtaining deeper insights into these works.  No one, however, should consider the information presented here absolutely definitive:  it is, rather, subjective material written by Brenda Schertz on the basis of information she obtained from a variety of sources, including the artists, and including direct quotations from many of these artists.  Viewers of these works are encouraged to offer their own thoughts.

Artists and Artworks:

Chuck Baird

All American Breakfast, 1992
Acrylic, 28" x  34"
From the collection of Elizabeth Weyerhauser, Arizona

The Detour, 1992
Acrylic, 29" x 21"
From the collection of Ray Parks, Jr., Arizona

My Supt. , 1993
Acrylic, 21" x 29"
On loan, courtesy of DawnSignPress, California

On the Border, 1989
Acrylic, 84" x 28"

Why Me?, 1973
Acrylic, 26" x 26"
From the collection of Nancy Frishberg, California

James R. Canning

Cantata, 1985-1986
Oil,  32" x 42"

The Temptation of St. Jim, ca. 1986
Oil,  41.5" x 55.5"

Randy Dunham

Shedding onto the Stones, 1989
Pastel, 23" x 20"
From the collection of David Curry, New York

Susan "Vito" Dupor

Deaf American, 1989
Oil on canvas,  30" x 42"
From the collection of Susan Schatz

Family Dog, 1991
Acrylic, 61" x 58"

I Interesting Hamster,1993
Mixed media, 48" x 48"

Interpretations, 1991
Acrylic, ink on cereal box and masonite, 20" x 30"
(Originally with red latchhook rug frame)

PL  94 - 142, 1991
Oil, 33" x 36"

Rape and her little Bambis, 1990
Acrylic on canvas, 42" x 46"
From the collection of Bobbi Zehner

Untitled, 1990
Acrylic on masonite, 60" x 48"

Dr. Betty G. Miller

Bah, Bah Black Sheep, 1984
Acrylic, 11.5" x 13.5"

Butterfly, 1983
Neon, 42" x 32"

Hearing Qualifications Test, 1990
Neon, mixed media,  34.5" x 44.5"

Hot Dog, Ice Cream, Baz Bawl , 1986
Brush & Ink/Watercolor, 28" x 20"

Learning Speech, 1986
Brush & Ink/Watercolor, 28" x 20"

Mirror, Mirror, 1986
Brush & Ink/Watercolor, 28" x 20"

Read My Lips, 1986
Brush & Ink/Watercolor, 28" x 20"

Untitled, 1993
Acrylic/Mixed Media,  32.5" x 34.5"

Eddie Swayze

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

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

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


Mary J. Thornley

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

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

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

Sandi Inches Vasnick

Dreamland View, 1988
Batik, 35.5" x 38.5"

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

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


The organizers of this exhibit are deeply indebted to many people for the help without which the exhibit would not have been possible.  It is not possible to name all of them, but special thanks are due to:

Kathy Vesey, Director of the Gallaudet University Regional Center at NECC, who co-sponsored the exhibit and lecture series, served on the exhibit committee and assisted in many other ways.

Arthur Signorelli, Director of Student Activities at NECC, for his wisdom and gallery experience and his generous financial and moral support.

Jessica Peroni and her army of volunteers.

The Gallaudet University Regional Center staff, Maureen Lundergan and Bryan Lloyd, who provided invaluable assistance.

Bill Harold, NECC's Campus Events coordinator, who contributed brains and brawn.

The National Theater of the Deaf, which organized a special troupe of the Little Theater of the Deaf for this exhibit.

The NECC Foundation, which co-sponsored the Little Theater of the Deaf.

Dr. Debbie Sonnenstrahl, for her early support of this exhibit, and for her opening night presentation.

Professor Geoffrey Koetsch of the Art Institute of Boston for the encouragement he gave Brenda Schertz during the research stages of this exhibit.

Dr. Betty G. Miller, who besides loaning a number of her works to this exhibit also allowed us to use her work, "Butterfly," for the commemorative poster, and for her presentation on De'VIA.

The Speech and Hearing Foundation for their support of the lecture series.

John Dunleavy, for his editorial assistance.

Joseph P. Bevillard, for his photographic services.

The Deaf Community News, for providing a full-page spread publicizing this exhibit.

Bryan Lloyd, Patrick McCarthy, Kristin Johnson and Ivy Velez, for serving as Gallery Facilitators.

Jonathan Odell of the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, for technical assistance.