Ann Silver was born genetically deaf into a hearing family in Seattle, WA, in 1949. She attended public schools. As professional support services did not exist, Silver was not mainstreamed. Her childhood education, she says, “was 90% guesswork, 10% art.”
Silver received her BA in Commercial Art from Gallaudet University in 1972 and an MA in Deafness [sic] Rehabilitation from New York University in 1977. Along with Betty G. Miller and Harry R. Williams, she has the distinction of being one of the founding members of the Washington DC-based Deaf Art movement (DAM) of the 1960s-1970s. Her lifelong push for recognition and inclusion of Deaf Art as both a legitimate academic study and an art genre is one of Silver’s personal achievements.
While working as a designer/art director for major book publishing companies in Manhattan, Silver burned the midnight oil as a sign language artist and a Deaf Studies researcher/writer. In 1979, she and the Museum of Modern Art established a 125-museum consortium program for Deaf visitors, earning a NY Governor’s Art Award. She was also a museum docent at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Living in Japan as a 1986 Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission Fellow, her pioneering cross-cultural research led to Japanese Deaf Studies.
Silver’s artistic background is varied—ranging from poster art, graphics, drawings, logos and greeting cards to book jackets, Deaftoons and creative direction. A self-taught artist, her work has been exhibited across the country and abroad, including Stockholm and Tokyo. She is considered to be a master artist of Deaf Pop Art by curators and experts alike. Silver’s use of bold graphics and advertising art makes her a Deaf Pop Art visionary and a forerunner in the field of Deaf Poster art. In fact, she revolutionized the graphic art field by creating ASL/Deaf-based logos and trademarks.
While Silver’s work represents the visual arts wing of the academic Deaf Studies spectrum, she also deals in issues of discrimination, omission and marginalization. As an oppression theorist, her work includes legal/policy analysis and identification of system barriers from a Deafcentric perspective for agencies such as the Washington State Human Rights Commission.
“No matter how you look at it – protest art, political satire, victim or graphic wit – I do not shy away from ethical questions or controversy. Having fused scholarship, creativity and sociopolitical philosophy, I truly believe that my being Deaf-with-a-capital-D gives me a greater visual acuity which in turn affects my work, artistic and otherwise. Deaf Art is my soul, my heart, my conscience.”
From: Deaf Way II Featured Visual Artists Reproduced with permission.