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Deaf Visual Arts:  De’VIA (Deaf View/ Image Art)


Deaf visual arts are an outlet for the Deaf community to express ambivalent experiences and feelings.


By Karly Zelinski
May 12, 2014
 

     De’VIA (Deaf View/ Image Art) is a category of art that is made specifically for the Deaf Community. The reason why De’VIA was created is because “There is no other field in the struggle of life which can do more for the Deaf than art, to secure recognition from the public and through this to bring them upon a common footing [1].” De’VIA as with many other types of art, is meant to express the feelings of a certain people group.

     Some of the earliest Deaf artists are Quintus Pedius a respected Roman, Bernardino di Betto Biagi who worked on the Sistine Chapel and Claude-Andre Deseine who was a well-known sculptor. Mirzoeff is one of the first recorded Deaf artists that expressed the unique ‘Deaf Identity’ [2]. This idea of understanding the Deaf Culture through art formed De’VIA,

     De’VIA started in May, 1989 at a four-day workshop. It was headed up by Betty G. Miller [3]. The De’VIA Manifesto states that De’VIA is meant to express the Deaf communities’ unique culture and insight [4]. Including Betty G. Miller there are nine artists that signed this manifesto, their abilities range from art historian to video artist. Some of the more modern artists include Guy Wonder, Chuck Baird and Charles Wildbank [5].

     De’VIA Art can be separated into two groups called resistive and affirmative. Resistive Deaf Art is art that expresses the suppression and oppression of the Deaf. Some of the topics include oralism, audism and Cochlear Implants [6]. “Family Dog” by Susan Dupor is a resistive piece conveying how it feels being ignored by a hearing family. “Mechanical Ear” by Chuck Baird is a commentary on how audists trying to bring about the hearingization of the Deaf. Another famous piece is “Ameslan Prohibited” by Betty G. Miller is about how not being able to sign is cruel [7]. Another category of resistive art is evident in many De ‘VIA artist’s self-portraits. These pieces exemplify the resistive De ‘VIA movement by expressing the negative feelings of the Deaf community in a way that can communicate to a large audience.

     Affirmative De’VIA is more playful and warm in nature. It supports ideas like Deaf empowerment, acculturation and acceptance [8]. “Crocodile Dundee” and “Whale” by Chuck Baird are playful pieces using signs from ASL. Likewise, “Love” and “Knowledge” by Charles Wildbank used ASL signs but he used photo realism. These pieces are almost the opposite of the resistive theme [9].

     There are many other types of Deaf Art including performance art, poetry, and Deaf theatre [10]. The Deaf are consistently developing new ways to express themselves. They do this to face Societies understanding or misunderstanding of them. Through insight, invention and irony the Deaf are developing a culture [11].

     De’VIA is an important emerging part of Deaf culture. Through Resistive Deaf Art the Deaf community develops a cultural voice which is an important part of developing a distinct culture. Affirmative Deaf Art celebrates the cultural space, strengthens connections, and helps the Deaf to gain a sense of belonging making it an important facet of Deaf culture [12]. Art plays a vital role in establishing a place for a community or individuals in history. “When the Deaf world sees itself and its culture reflected in the works of its artists that Deaf art is most effectively a bonding force in Deaf society…[13]”


References:

[1] Albronda, M. (1980). Douglas Tilden: Portrait of a Deaf Sculptor. Maryland : J.J. Publishers Inc.

[2] (Durr, 2006)Ibid.p.37-38.

[3] Gish, F. (2009 ). De‘VIA: An Expression of Deaf Culture through Art.p.2.

[4] Durr, P. (2006). De’VIA: Investigating Deaf Visual Art. Deaf Studies Today!, p.3.

[5] (Durr, 2006),Ibid .p.3.

[6] (Durr, 2006), Ibid.p.169.

[7] Durr, P. (2006). De’VIA: Investigating Deaf Visual Art. Deaf Studies Today!, .p.171-173.

[8] Durr, P. (2006). De’VIA:I nvestigating Deaf Visual Art. Deaf Studies Today!, p.169.

[9] (Durr, 2006).p.174-175.

[10] Forbes-Robertson, A. (2004). Deaf ART: WHAT FOR? A critical ethnographic exploration of the discourses of Deaf visual, .p.33.

[11]Carrol Padden, T. H. (1988). Deaf in America: Voices in A Culture. Cambridge: President and Fellows of Harvard College.

[12] Ibid. (Forbes-Robertson, 2004).p.33.

[13] Lane, H. H. (1996). A journey Into The Deaf World. San Diego: DawnSignPress.


Bibliography:

Albronda, M. (1980). Douglas Tilden:Portrait of a Deaf Sculptor. Maryland : J.J.Publishers Inc.

Carrol Padden, T. H. (1988). Deaf in America: Vioces in A Culture. Cambridge: President and Fellows of Harvard College.

Durr, P. (2006). De’VIA:Investigating Deaf Visual Art. Deaf Studies Today!, 168-187.

Forbes-Robertson, A. (2004). Deaf ART: WHAT FOR? A critical ethnographic exploration of the discourses of Deaf visual, 1-300.

Gish, F. (2009 ). De‘VIA: An Expression of Deaf Culture through Art. 1-20.

Lane, H. H. (1996). A journey Into The Deaf World. San Diego: DawnSignPress.
 

 

Zelinski, Karly. (May 12, 2014). Deaf Visual Arts:  De’VIA (Deaf View/ Image Art). Lifeprint Library. ASL University. Retrieved May 19, 2014: http://lifeprint.com/asl101/topics/devia.htm.


 


 


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