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1999 Deaf Artists' Exhibit

Deaf Artists' Exhibit, 20 Deaf Artists:  Common Motifs, at Deaf Studies VI Conference, Pro Arts Gallery, Oakland, CA, April 9-10, 1999
Curated by Brenda Schertz

Gallery Guide


The first two exhibitions of Deaf Art that I organized, in 1993 and 1995, were each titled "Deaf Artists' Exhibit: A Perspective of Deaf Culture Through Art" which reflected a growing awareness of the importance of Deaf Art in Deaf Studies.  The personal perspectives of the artists brought fresh insights to what it means to be Deaf.

The ever-growing number of works in the field of De'VIA (Deaf View Image Art or Deaf Art) frequently amaze me, not least because of the number of motifs common to artists who have had no prior contact with each other.  Not all of these shared motifs are included in this exhibit, because there simply is not room for them all, but many of the works here do use similar symbols.

Some of these symbols are quite obvious.  Take the hand, for instance.  In a variety of different forms, the hand appears in many works as a symbol of our pride with our language and the importance of our means of communication.  Endless approaches to representing sign language in different formats are also popular.  Sometimes certain positions or differences in proportion indicate that the hand represents oppression or oppressors. 

TTYs are another easily recognizable motif.  Interpretations of sound, music or use of musical instruments also frequently occur.  Speech lessons and the experience of learning speech have stayed with many of us for most of our lives and this, too, is reflected in this exhibit.  Feelings of being trapped are another common theme.  One curious motif that has appeared in recent works is the reworking of historical paintings or other representations of historical events to reflect Deaf history or the Deaf experience;  this is a way of indicating the magnitude of an event in our history.

This exhibit invites the viewer to explore other common motifs and themes and share these observations with other viewers and artists in the gallery.

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 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 on the basis of information obtained from a variety of sources, including the artists, and including direct quotations from many of these artists.  Viewers are encouraged to offer their own thoughts.

Brenda Schertz
March 30, 1999

The De'VIA Manifesto

Artists' Biographies

Descriptions of Artworks

Chuck Baird

Be My Valentine, Love Series, No. 3, 1999
Mixed Media, 14" w x 17" h

Grant Thy Spirit, 1999
Oil on canvas, framed with feathers, 24'' w x 36'' h

Please But, 1999
Mixed Media, 11'' h x 11'' d x 36'' w

Remembering the Fitzgerald Key, 1999
Oil on canvas, 18'' h x 36" w

Irene Bartok

Divine Power, 1995
Photograph 18" w x 20" h

Jeff Carroll

Deaf Like You, 1998
Plaster of Paris,14" h x 12" w x 7" d

Connie M. Clanton

Cherish ASL, 1996
Intaglio,14" w x14" h

Deaf Woman, 1998
Intaglio, 14" w x14" h

Expression of Hands, 1998
Intaglio, 14" w x14" h

Collogragh, 11" w x 9" h

Talking Hands, 1998
Collogragh, 11" w x 9" h

Susan Dupor

.push the red button, 1995
Oil on masonite, 18"  w x 15" h

Child and TTY, 1997
Embroidery, 10 " w x 11" h

Coexistence, 1998
Oil on canvas, 36" w x 27" h

Divergence, 1997
Oil, six panels 9" w x 71/4" h

A Lesson, 1999
Embroidery, 12 "  w x 9 3/4" h

Musical Chairs
Oil, 27 " w x 23 " h

Narcissus, 1999
Oil, 27" w x 19" h

Sss-speech, 1998
Oil on masonite, 6" w x 7" h

To Have/To Find, 1991
16-mm transferred to VHS format, 5 minutes

Transportation Hub, 1995
Oil on masonite, Diptych 10 "  w x 8 " h

Paul Johnston

1998, 1998
Paper, 16" w x 15" h

Lyric I, 1998
Paper,  24" w x 24" h

Lyric II, 1998
Paper, 14"  w x 35" h

Spiritualism, 1998
Watercolor,  22"  w x 29" h

Structure II, 1998
Watercolor,  22"  w x 29" h

Unity of Communication, 1998
Watercolor,  29"  w x 22" h

Tony  Landon McGregor

ASL Eagle Over Hands Monument, 1999
Mixed media (Watercolor and Ink) 20" w x 24" h

ASLized Mimbres Fish, 1995
Woodburned Gourd Art, 13"  h x 11" d

Native American Deaf Experiences, 1999
Mixed Media (woodburned gourd w/inlaid turquoise), 9.5" h x 13" d

Betty G. Miller

Ameslan Flag, 1974
Acrylic/Mixed Media, 23" h x 40" w  x 4" d

A Tribute to a Deaf Artist, 1999
Neon/Acrylic/Mixed Media, 21" h x 31" w

TTY Call, 1997
Neon Assemblage, 21" w x 21" d x 26 " h, old TTY, hand/phone /half-figure

Untitled, 1993
Acrylic/Mixed Media, 32 3/4" w x 34 1/2" h

Victor Notaro

Cable Surfing, 1994
VHS video, 5 minutes

Connie, 1994
VHS video, 5 minutes

Footwork , 1994
VHS video, 5 minutes

Oz, 1994
VHS video, 5 minutes

Star, 1993
VHS video, 5 minutes

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

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

Joan Popovich-Kutscher

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tracey Salaway

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

Orkid Sassouni

Book #1, 1997-1998
8" x 8" book with 27 Black and White Photo