Viva De’VIA

All people create A-R-T for aesthetic purposes. In addition, artistic works can express a group’s shared collective experiences, record and preserve their culture and history, communicate their cultural values/world view and advocate for sociological and political changes.

The Deaf View/Image Art (De’VIA) manifesto was written in 1989 by nine Deaf artists in order to recognize and promote a particular genre of artworks by Deaf people:

De’VIA represents Deaf artists and perceptions based on their Deaf experiences. It uses formal art elements with the intention of expressing innate cultural or physical Deaf experience. These experiences may include Deaf metaphors, Deaf perspectives, and Deaf insight in relationship with the environment (both the natural world and Deaf cultural environment), spiritual and everyday life.

(De’VIA Manifesto, 1989)

The visual arts have led the way in fostering our understanding of ourselves because there was a collective and conscious effort to NAME Deaf-themed expressions within the visual arts. The conceptualization of De’VIA likely originated in the late 1970s, during the time of the Spectrum Deaf artists’ colony in Austin, Texas. Yet, it was not named until the gathering of artists before the Deaf Way I conference in 1989. Artists have been striving to represent the Deaf experience via paintings, illustrations, photography, sculpture, mixed media, textile art, printmaking, ceramic, digital arts, and other mediums. No medium appears to be absent from De’VIA representation.

We hope you will enjoy seeing these De’VIA works that have been categorized by motif/symbols and/or themes for your viewing pleasure. We regret we could not include ALL the fabulous De’VIA artists and their works due to space limit. We hope you will be inspired by these works and in turn create your own De’VIA pieces and/or become a patron of Deaf-Themed visual art.

We thank you for creating and caring about De’VIA.

Viva De’VIA.

Chuck Baird and Patti Durr
Curators of this NAD De’VIA exhibit

I, as co-curator, want to take this honor to acknowledge those with much gratitude. If not for them, this would not be possible:

Nancy Bloch and National Association of the Deaf (NAD) for sponsoring this Creative Space and making a room to display these DeVIA Posters.

Brenda Schertz and Dr. Jean Andrew for sharing resources from the recent De’VIA exhibits at the Deaf Studies Today Conference and Lamar University.

NTID/RIT layout artist and student, Beth Karbowski, for designing the posters.

Joan Naturale of the RIT Wallace Memorial Library for copyright guidance and contact information.

The NTID Arts & Imaging Studies for in-kind donation and Troy Oliver for printing the posters.

Paula Grcevic and Barbara Fox, curators of the International Archive of Deaf Artists.

Deborah Sonnenstrahl, author of Deaf Artists in America: Colonial to Contemporary.

Patti Durr for many invaluable hours to assist as co-curator, the incredible job of contacting artists, collecting images, and writing the commentary.

Last, the most important: all the artists and/or their estates for giving us the permission to reproduce their works in these posters.

Chuck Baird

Artworks © to the artists. This page cannot be reproduced without permission.

This was made possible through the support of the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID).