Nancy Rourke is an internationally-known Deaf artist and ARTivist. As a full-time professional artist, she is very involved implementing De’VIA art curriculum for Deaf children. She has done numerous artist-in-residencies at Deaf schools nationwide where she teaches and makes art, using Rourkeism in De’VIA, which is a style of De’VIA, modeled after her work, and noteworthy for its use of bold primary colors and Deaf-themes expressing affirmation, resistance and liberation. Nancy offers the De’VIA retreat, hosting art galleries for Deaf artists, raising awareness of Deaf people through Art. She has a book entitled “Nancy Rourke: Deaf Artist Series.
My work has a centralized focus that makes a theme; and using categories such as resistance, affirmation and liberation art. I create images that show blue tapes, yellow lights, hands, eyes, elephant, horse, strings, cracks, band-aids, etc. Primary colours are what I use in my paintings. I also use monochrome for reinforcement. In 2009, I learned about the Deaf Culture and started new ideas from reading Paddy Ladd’s book, “Understanding Deaf Culture in Search of Deafhood” and that was when I decided to make art that focuses on Deaf experience. I picked red, yellow and blue colours because I want to challenge myself with very limited use of colours. I want the audience to recognize who I am, using three colours. Each colour has a meaning. Red means empowerment. Yellow means HOPE and light Deaf people need to see each other. Blue means AUDISM. I felt these elements make art so powerful to the Deaf and Hearing society. I make a political statement. I capture today’s society that needed attention because it is long overdue. Part of it, is to educate and part of it is a wake- up call. These influences came from painters Jean Michel Basquiat and Jacob Lawrence, who studied the civil rights movement. In resistance art, the work shows mask of benevolence, linguistic controversy, oralism, mainstreaming, genetic engineering, communication barrier, colonialism, paternalism, audism and identity struggle. In affirmation art, the work shows empowerment, ASL, Deaf culture, identity, acceptance, Deaf history and Deafhood. In liberation art, I transform resistance into affirmation that makes it empowerment. I paint how Deaf people have been controlled by predominantly audist environments. I seek to portray on how much suffering and submissive Deaf people were, many years when Aristotle (384- 322 BC) said “Deaf born senseless and incapable to reason.” I felt this was important for the audience to see who and what our human rights are. Discrimination was too much and this is what I am painting today.