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Deaf Culture - Deaf Art

When Pictures are Worth a Thousand Signs

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Updated November 28, 2009

What is deaf art? I define it as art created by a deaf/hoh person that expresses some aspect of deafness and hearing loss (e.g., sign language, communication issues). Some in the deaf community refer to deaf-themed art as De'Via (deaf view/image art). I hope to someday decorate my home with deaf art.

Web Exhibits of Deaf Art

There are some exhibits of deaf art online. These exhibits combine non-deaf themed artworks with deaf-themed artworks. The International Archive of Deaf Artists

The International Archive of Deaf Artists showcases the work of selected deaf artists in both thumbnail and large size versions. One of the artists is Betty Miller, who is also mentioned in the book Deaf Heritage. (Deaf Heritage has examples of Miller's artwork. She is a "methodology" artist whose work is anti-oralism. One of the best drawings is of handcuffed hands with the fingers chopped off.)

DeafArt.org

The outdated site DeafArt.org has some thumbnail examples of deaf art. Some are quite interesting, such as Susan Dupor's "Family Dog" which depicts the feelings of a deaf person unable to keep up with family members who do not sign. Unfortunately, the site is limited to thumbnails only.

Deaf Art/Deaf Artists

Deaf Art/Deaf Artists is the best deaf art site, in my opinion, and it does not appear to be outdated. It has a timeline of De 'Via history, spanning 1972 through 2002. The timeline includes an old Deaf Mosaic video clip about the Deaf Artists of America organization. An articles section contains an excellent illustrated article, "Visions by Deaf Artists," originally published in Visual Anthropology Review, Vol. 15, No.2. p.20-36. There is also a PDF of a British dissertation, "Deaf Art? What for?" Plus, there are selected articles on deaf art from the Tactile Mind Weekly. Yet another treasure on this site is the videos section, which has video clips from Deaf Mosaic on Chuck Baird and Ann Silver.

Books on Deaf Art

Deaf Artists in America: Colonial to Contemporary (compare prices) is a book about art by deaf people, with more than 300 art reproductions (not all deaf-themed).

In addition, chapter 4 of Deaf Heritage is on artists. Besides Miller, this chapter includes Morris Broderson and Frederick LaMonto. Broderson and LaMonto are the only artists in the chapter whose work included deaf themes. The chapter can be read or downloaded online from the Deaf Art/Deaf Artists website, in the articles section.

"Chuck Baird: 35 Plates," is a book reproducing 35 of Chuck Baird's works (compare prices).

Deaf Artists' Web Sites

Some contemporary deaf artists have personal websites to showcase their experience and/or work:
  • Chuck Baird's "Chuck's Brushes" (http://www.chuckbaird.com) site lists all of his artistic accomplishments, from the 1960s to the present.
  • Helene Oppenheimer is a sculptor (http://pages.sbcglobal.net/aslclay/) who has done works such as a "signing Charlie Brown."
  • Betty Miller's site is at http://bettigee.purple-swirl.com/index.html. Online galleries showcase some of her more recent works, such as one spoofing hearing tests.
  • Susan Dupor's site is at http://www.geocities.com/duporart/gallery/index.html. She sells prints directly.

Deaf Art Galleries

The National Technical Institute for the Deaf is home to the Joseph F. and Helen C. Dyer Art Center. The Dyer center has a permanent collection and special exhibits. Some of the artists are RIT/NTID alummni.

Buying Deaf Art

Some deaf artists may sell their artwork via their personal websites. It is also possible to buy note card reproductions of the works of Chuck Baird, through DawnSignPress (www.dawnsign.com), in the Educational category.

Deaf Art at About Deafness/HOH

About Deafness/HOH has its own small art gallery, at http://deafness.about.com/od/deafculture/ig/Deaf-Art-Gallery/index.htm. New, original submissions are always welcome.
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