Lessons from Deaf Arts


I found myself studying tirelessly the activities of De’VIA, (Deaf View Image Art or Deaf Art), learning about how Deaf artists thought and interacted with stories for their substance and sustenance in art. Like Native people, their ultimate goal is survival. The same truth goes to Deaf people: SURVIVAL.  For example, the artworks done by Nancy Rourke, David Call, Ellen Mansfield, Dr. Paul Johnston of Gallaudet, late Chuck Baird whom I was honored to meet back in 2011, other many talented artists have reminded me a bit of watching a certain documentary film a while ago.

I learned which birds make nests, and which rely upon the sturdily built ones from other species of birds. I found it very interesting how instinctively innovative birds are. The great lengths birds go to procure materials, such as remnants from wasp hives, to create their nests, which is surprising to me.  Such materials disguis their nests and deter natural predators from stealing their eggs. Yet, the western culture dismisses birds life as primitive. The phrase “bird brain”, which indicates a person who has little intelligence, keep on coming to my mind. It is ironic to me that birds are in fact very instinctively intelligent in matters of self-preservation and perpetuation as a species. It has the same sentiments what Deaf artists are all about disguising from oppression by predators, known as Audists. Deaf Art is about self-preservation.

De’VIA artists today are providing sustenance for Deafhood stories and Deaf people cohabiting their environment, having brought home to me the holistic vantage of Deafhood education. Even on my very street, in my backyard, I am sharing an experience with others who have just as much right to its resources, and as my state of being Deaf I can learn from the observation of birds, just how interdependent we are in the sense that birds and we are co-habitants in survival and of the same corner of the world.

In fulfillment of my support for De’VIA, I endeavored to be a careful observer of their work during their Deafhood journey. I have not had the slightest idea how Deaf artists think to draw or paint, which is beyond me and they are amazing. I must admit I have never painted, not much about my previous thought. I used to simply dismiss Art artwork because the Deaf artists are happily working and flying around inconsequentially.

When I first saw De’VIA work, it was Nancy Rourke’s creativity that I fell in love with. Then that was which has since guided me to discover more Deaf artists than ever before. I have also noticed Deaf Art has changed my life forever. Deaf Art work? I have never thought it would become my strongest therapy. Whenever I decided to sit in my living room, I began to observe their paintings over and over. A friend once said that it is an eyesore why I bought many art works from those Deaf artists. Through my observation, the artists do not want to rake the leaves fallen from the tree falls just to be lain strewn, wet, and browned from winter rains. A well-manicured lawn of our Deafhood stories across America still has little greenish pods littered with the fallen leaves.

De’VIA is a treasure that would provide nourishment “from meal to meal,” perhaps until the next Deaf person could be found in the rich blanket of our Deafhood journey. The art resistance are gathering sticks or bedding for their nests to preserve. The activism by De’VIA artists is actually assisting in the transport of Audism bin to remove to a lower place so the Deaf people can become stronger.

Also, their activism further made our Deafhood journey more accessible to truth, which would not need to climb into higher depths of Audism in order to find survival. Further, the transference of Deaf Art allows a greater yield of Audism for years and years, ensuring continued sustenance for all the Deaf people on this mother planet that depend on the stories as a source of survival. Perhaps this observation in minute of the scheme of things, but it gave me an awareness of just how interconnected we all are. I express my full support for De’VIA artists.


Copyright © 2013 Jason Tozier

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