DeVia Challenge

DeVia Challenge


Patti Durr: I do want to
introduce our guest, Nancy Rourke. Then we’ll have some
artists whose work is actually on display in the
small gallery in the back come up and explain
their artwork. We’ll have a light reception. We’ll have an artists’
activity if you guys are feeling brave
and want to participate. And, without further ado,
this is Nancy Rourke. This is her sign name. It incorporates the hand
shape “N” and the number 3. Can anybody guess why? Yes, her trademark of red,
yellow, and blue– primary colors. If other artists use those
primary colors, sometimes other people assume that
that’s a Nancy Rourke piece, but–which is
not always the case. It’s just really
her trademark. All right, let’s get going
with the presentation. Thank you all for being here. Nancy Rourke: Hello. Thank you so much
for inviting me. I’m so excited to
see everyone here. It’s truly wonderful. This is the first time
ever we have had a De’VIA
Challenge exhibit, and we have it here. It’s so thrilling to see
all of the art and all of the artists here today. So today I want to
primarily talk about how the De’VIA Challenge
started, where it came from, and how it’s been going. I believe that it is on
the De’VIA YouTube channel. In any case, this link will
lead you to a video that you’re able to see. And this is where I have
a lot of detailed explanations about where De’VIA started and how it’s
changed over time and what it looks like today. Karen Christie was the
videographer for this film. I believe she’s here in
the room right over here. Well, I’ll go ahead and start
with this information here, then jump back in time a bit
and then forward again, just to help you understand
what is happening as time has gone on. So this is from my website, from my personal
business website. So in the year 2012– well, I’ll get into that just
a bit more. In 2012, I had this
30-day challenge during
the month of June. Here are all the works I made
during that time period. The first day, second day,
all the way down to the 30th day are
all shown here. Starting at the bottom,
we have Number 1, and Number 30 is in
the upper left, so they
go from bottom to top. Over here is a 31-day
challenge that I undertook. I wanted to try to
really encourage myself and challenge myself to
do a work per day in the month of March. So we have starting from
Number 1 in the lower right up to the 31st in
the upper left. Now, that was in 2012,
but I actually began this endeavor one year
before that. So, including this year,
this is the eighth year that I’ve been
working in this vein. Now, this was the first
year, but there wasn’t a specific theme
or specific motif that was
specified for each day. Nothing was documented; it was something that I just
did on the fly. Every day, I created
a piece of work, but it wasn’t quite structured
the way it is now. So, looking at these pieces
now, I know I made them during that particular
month, but I couldn’t tell you which day was
done at which time. So this was in 2011,
the very first year I did this kind of challenge. So you might be wondering
where I came up with this idea to have a daily
artistic challenge. Here is my source
of inspiration. This artist’s name
is Matt Sesow. He works in Washington, D.C. When he was a child, he lost his arm
around the age of 9. He was enjoying time outside,
playing with friends, and at the same time, there was
a small plane that was landing. Now, it wasn’t landing
anywhere close to them, but he got into the
vicinity, and his arm was injured by the propeller. And as you can imagine,
that was an incredibly traumatic experience. It took a lot of time and
effort for him to work
through that, and in the process,
he became an artist. So he started a challenge that
he undertook for 10 years. Every year during the month
of July, for 31 days he created an original
artwork. His canvases are 30″ x 40″,
which you can just imagine is quite large. So I have personally met him. We’ve been in touch
for about 5 years. He’s come to visit my hometown, just about one hour
north of Denver. I do tend to frequent
Denver quite often because they have an art
access gallery there, where I’m often showing my work. And he, Matt, is good
friends with the director of the gallery, so whenever
he comes, I head down to Denver and we catch up,
I watch him paint, so I’m very familiar with him, and he’s been my
inspiration for this
De’VIA Challenge. Now, Matt’s challenge is
inspired by the front page of “The Washington Post.” Every morning, he opens up
that front page and peruses the various
headlines and stories. He chooses one and uses
that as the inspiration for his painting. This one, there is an article about a birthday party
being held for a panda, and he created this
work on the left called
“Happy, Lucky Panda Party.” It’s kind of an
interesting, amusing piece. Again, we can see that his
canvas here is 30″ x 40″. So this panda was
becoming two years old. So that’s where Matt
is coming from. Some days, he’ll pick
something light like this, and the next day he might
be covering a war or some sort of other negative
thing that’s happening in the world, so it’s
interesting to see how he does it, so it’s really
fun to see what he comes up
with every day. He shared this concept with me,
and he really brought this idea of a challenge
and challenging oneself as an artist to my mind. So that’s how things got
started for me in 2011, and I really wanted to take
this idea and focus all of its energy onto
the deaf community. I typically use Facebook
as a venue of exhibiting my work. I think about, every
morning or evening, what I want to focus on. I look at social media,
I look through Facebook, scroll through the newsfeed, and find something that I think
is really going to work well
on my art, with my art. So I get an idea and I
run with it; I pull out my
paints and go for it. I do have a deadline that
I set for myself. I need to finish every
work every day by midnight. It’s really tough. I do not give
myself any slack. If I’m not done by
midnight, then time’s up. I’m going to have to start that
painting all over again. So it’s something that’s
not easy, but it is a challenge that
I pose to myself. I tried to choose a month
to do this without any travel or work or any other
commitments that would be taking my time or energy
away from the challenge. Now, that’s not the ideal,
but that is not something that always happens. There are often people who
want to invite me to come during that month or work
or travel plans that come up, so things aren’t
always the way that I plan. I know sometimes I can’t
start works because I have to go and do other things,
and then that’s always on my mind. I want to just get home
and finally start that work that I’ve got to
finish by midnight. It’s not an easy life,
I have to say. It’s a challenge in
more ways than one. So in 2014, on the De’VIA
Central Facebook group was the first challenge. So this page, De’VIA
Central Facebook, was something that
was set up in 2012. I did my work, I posted it
in this venue, and there were a lot of artists
who were seeing what I was doing and got a
little bit of curious. They thought, “Hmm, maybe
I could do this, too.” They got in contact with
me and asked if they could join with the same
challenge that I was posing to myself, and I said,
“Absolutely. The more the merrier.” Now, I did let them know
that there were rules involved with this
challenge, and I said, you know, “This is
something you’re going to have to follow if you
want to really join me,” and they were
completely OK with that. I did,
realize, though, that– or rather, some of the artists
realized that it was not as easy as they thought
it would be. Some people would get their
first work done on Day 1 and then not do
another one until Day 7. Some people tried and made
it through the first week. Bravo for them, but after
that point, they got a little overwhelmed
with the challenge. There were a couple artists
who asked about a theme. Why not have a theme for
each day that you could post and try to get a
lot of people involved? This would be a great way
to encourage other artists to join us, and I
thought that that was an interesting idea, so the
idea of a kitchen theme was brought up, and that’s
one of the first ones that we used. We have some examples
here on the left. Now, before that, there
were no motifs, nothing specific that were
required, and with this one,
there was the idea of a kitchen, but there was no specific
meaning attributed to that. People could take it
wherever they wanted. So, at this point, we
had about 10 or 12 of us
working together. You can see, there’s some really
high-quality work here. I was quite
impressed to see it. So this is 2015. This is when I started
the February challenge. Now, February is
the shortest month, only 28 days. It’s in the winter. People tend to hibernate
in the winter, have a lot of time in the home
to make the art, so I thought this
would be a good month for us to pose our challenge. I also decided to add
more structured motifs to the challenge. A lot of them have to do with
the concept of affirmation, and there
are also those that are more on the resistance
end of De’VIA. So I have a jar that I
have these different motifs written on pieces of paper,
crumpled up, put them in the jar, and I chose
them out of there. Decided that we should
start with resistance. The last day would be
an affirmation motif. So, with that in mind, I chose
each motif out of a jar and wrote them down randomly for
each day of the month. So, after having a motif
for each day, I decided to give a little bit
of description of what those motifs could mean
or where they could go. So there’s also the
concept of artivism. It’s the idea of activism
through art, so you see that up there. It says, “Theme–artivism.” Now, there were a lot of
people who were really invigorated by this idea. But there are more people
who really like to see what people come up with. So here’s a calendar of
the various motifs for the month of February. And–very nice. Patti did this for us. Thank you very much. Stevie Naeyaert was the one
who made this lower image here on the left, and these
are both posted into the De’VIA
Central Facebook group. So that year,
at the end of the month, on February 28th,
we had a total of 675 posts following
this challenge. There were 55 artists
who joined. And we had 5 of those
from other countries outside of the United States. Very impressive. Now, not everyone was able to do
a work every day. That’s true. There were a few
who were able to do that, but most started,
gave up for a while, then came back
and did it on and off. All right, this was
the year 2016, and this was the first time
that I had made a calendar for all of the motifs. I added different labels to show whether it would be
a resistance or affirmation, and you can see that here with
the “A” and the “R.” And it was up to the artists
to choose their own theme. And we had 810 posts on the De’VIA Central Facebook
page, which was incredible. I would say about
60 participants of artists who painted and tried
to keep up with this challenge. This year, I added
a few more expansions on what I was looking for
for each of the motifs. And actually, I made this piece
up here with all of the motifs that we were going
to incorporate in the month of February. I tried to contact
the Daily Moth for an older video
that they had from February 10, 2016, but unfortunately,
I didn’t hear back. I didn’t get a response. I was hoping to show
you guys the video that the producer made about
the De’VIA Challenge, but no luck, unfortunately. But it was there, and that was
a surprise to me. To be featured
on that show was touching. And so,
28 days in February 2017, I added links, I added
more expansion on each motif, what specifically
I’m looking for, and what each motif means. And you’ll notice that
the calendar is color-coded, blue meaning resistance,
yellow meaning affirmation, and pink is in between,
an option. This is a really
important year. You can see,
the first week is all blue, the second week is all yellow, the third week all pink. Now, that pink means
you can choose, again, either affirmation
or resistance. You had your choice
as an artist to run with what you pleased. The theme was ASL. This is the next slide.
Yep, thank you, Patti. Ha! 2018, this year, I added pictures
to my descriptions of the different motifs. I think that is
really the best so far. It’s very clear and helps
people understand exactly what I’m looking for. Last year, some of the artists
mentioned that even with my written description,
they weren’t exactly sure what I meant, and so these
art examples really make it extra clear.
The first– on Day 25, rather, is stage, and under this motif,
I have different pieces where people incorporated
that motif. Day 26 is ILY,
“I love you” sign, and you can see examples
that artists created, and there’s both affirmation
and resistance. I included affirmation
and resistance for that because sometimes people feel
like the ILY symbol and that sign is just overused; cultural appropriation,
even, if you will. Now, Day 27, I added the rainbow
as the motif, and that’s an important motif. Again, this one had
affirmation and resistance; resistance because many people in that community
experience bullying. It could be
in the deaf community. It could be related
to community accountability. It’s really up to the artist
to decide how they want to incorporate the rainbow motif
into their art. Now, all of these
different motifs we have displayed in
the exhibits behind us. Last year was
the 200th anniversary, so we had a piece
related to that, several related to ASL. A couple of them used
the Kitchen Theme. There was one without
a motif one year… and then the next year, there
was a specific motif to use within that Kitchen Theme:
the Veditz Day in August, the Inspirational Challenge. For that, I’m trying
to remember. We picked, I believe,
7, was it? Yes, 7 different artists
that we were inspired by. For example, Betty G. Miller from the first 9 artists of the De’VIA movement, so we selected her. We selected Goya from the 1800s, so that’s another example. We also had an Animal Challenge, and different animals
can mean different things; for example, bees. Bees can represent deaf people.
So can butterflies. That’s another example. A cow can represent… Moloch… which is like A.G. Bell. The #surdistsmakeartnotwar. A lot of activism and artivism
surrounded this hash tag. We had a Self Portrait
Challenge, and that one was
interesting as well. The Inauguration Day Challenge
didn’t happen. We brought it up,
we asked if there was any community interest, and there were crickets. Heh! No one ended up
doing this challenge. We also had a Day of
the Dead Challenge, and the same sort
of thing occurred. We put out the call to action, and only one person made
a piece, and that person is David Call.
Are they here? Is David here? Patti: No, he’ll be on the way. Nancy: OK, but he was
the sole artist that created a piece
for that challenge. Patti: Can I add? So, on the Day of the Dead,
I think somebody posted something related to
the deaf community. We know that that is
a Latino holiday that honors family,
and we decided not to take that theme on because we didn’t
want to appropriate that and use that in ways
that it shouldn’t be. Now, it is very important,
of course, to honor that culture
and to not make that– misuse that in any way,
so that was really kind of what happened with that. Nancy: Yeah, and the one person
that made an art piece probably didn’t see
our note about that. By the time
we had taken it down, somebody had made
a piece already. Now, we’re thinking about the
next challenge and the future. We might actually
borrow something from the Daily Moth,
that news site. That’s one idea. Audience member: Is it OK
to ask a question now, or should I perhaps wait? There’s something on this slide
I have a question about. So, for the Inauguration Day
Challenge, you said no one
responded to that. Was that for President Trump’s
inauguration? Can you tell me more about why
no one took that up? Was that specifically
President Trump’s inauguration? OK. Yeah.
That–wasn’t sure. Heh! We weren’t sure exactly what you
were talking about, with it as vague as it was. It could mean, perhaps, a different inauguration; perhaps one celebrating
maybe a female president or a president of Gallaudet,
so that idea of inauguration, perhaps, could be switched
to not just mean Trump. Nancy: I like that idea. Yeah, I’ll definitely
keep that in mind. Now I’d like to explain
a little bit about the different
De’VIA categories. De’VIA is an acronym that stands for “deaf view image art.” It’s art made about
the deaf experience. There’s 3 categories
under the De’VIA umbrella: affirmation art
and resistance art, but you can also see
that resistance transformed to affirmation becomes its own
category–liberation art. This is a piece of resistance, and this is a piece
of affirmation. If you’re interested
in learning more about the different De’VIA themes, here is a good example,
and there are some links to this page as well,
all of the different themes that are under affirmation
and resistance. It’s available online,
and if you’re interested, you can definitely check out
this web site. So as you can see
in this diagram, we’ve got the categories:
resistance, affirmation, liberation. Underneath, we have example of
themes within those categories, so under resistance,
mainstreaming; and under affirmation,
collectivism. Below those, we have
examples of motifs further within those categories. So you have a basic
understanding of how the De’VIA Challenge works
and the rules that we employ. Do you have any questions
about this? Audience member: So De’VIA,
is it specifically about the deaf experience,
or is it also incorporating other disenfranchised groups? Let me clarify. So De’VIA has
these various categories. So you’re saying
that De’VIA has categories, and I understand that,
and you’re also talking about the idea of culture. We know that various cultures
have the idea of pressing back against–pushing back against
the larger, dominant culture. Does De’VIA
also reflect that? Nancy: Definitely. That’s a great question. Thank you for raising that. Yes, De’VIA incorporates
everything. It incorporates all sorts
of intersectional identities. It can be the LGBT community, specific religions; the Jewish
community, for example. The De’VIA Central Challenge
is broad in that way. It incorporates all sorts
of different identities. This one is an example
from February 2015, Day 7. The motif was a lock, and you can see different
artist renditions of this theme. Do you want to talk a little bit
about this piece? Patti: No, not really. Nancy: OK.
Well, you can see here, using the lock
to represent oralism. It was her idea
of using a door lock quite intuitively and creatively
to create this piece. Patti: I’m sorry. I didn’t mean
to say, “No, not really.” It sounds so snarky.
Ha ha ha! So this is called
“Me As A Small D.” It’s kind of explaining
my experience as a child growing up in
an oralist background. I kind of felt like I was being
locked, or that others were locking me in, parts
of me in because I– so much focus on
the mouth and the ear. So we can see that there is
the lock that connects the mouth and the ear,
and it also reflects the way that the sign for “deaf” looks. We also see that I’ve used
buttons to show my eyes, which is showing
kind of a deadness, a lack of vitality. We also know that idea of
deaf children being shown as– or treated as pets, almost, and we can see the irony
of the crown here. My hands are spelling “deaf.” You can see those here. They almost look like
an X-ray, though, that “deaf” being spelled out. It’s not really there.
It’s transparent. It’s not being fully
fleshed out artistically or in this piece in the way that
my hands would actually look. Nancy: Thank you. All right, this example is
from February 2016, Day 15, and the motif was
a wind-up key. It’s really amazing to see
all of the artists’ different renditions. This was February 2017, Day 25, Octopus Motif. This media is paper-cutting, and on the left, it’s
pencil and paper. What I think is
interesting is there’s lots of different materials used
for the De’VIA Challenge. It doesn’t have to be the
traditional paint and canvas. There’s photography included,
poetry, all sorts of different ways to express
yourself within this challenge. Two-Day ASL. This was part of
that challenge. This was a linocut. This is the Three-Day
Deaf History Challenge. This was actually created by
a deaf-blind artist from France, Arnaud Balard. This is the Silverware Motif,
the Kitchen Theme in 2017. Patti: So the artist here
on the left, Takiyah Harris, is a black deaf artist,
and she does a lot of her work
focusing on history. This is showing the story of
a family who lived on a farm with a father who was hearing and mother who was deaf. And this mother had 5 children,
quintuplets. The doctor decided
to name the children himself, rather than allowing
the deaf mother to name the children herself. He thought,
“Oh, Mother can’t speak. “She has absolutely no place. “She can’t name
her own children. I’m going to name them for her.” We see milk cans back here because they gave
the children pet milk. It was made not for children,
but that’s what they decided to give to these children. They confiscated the children
and they dressed them up, took pictures of them, used them
for ads for the milk. So I didn’t know about this
until Takiyah Harris created work about it. Four of these children ended up
passing away from breast cancer. Unfortunately, only one
is still living. So that’s the story that this
piece tells here on the left. It’s possible that the cancer that caused the end of
their lives could be tied back to that milk
that they were given. Nancy: This one, these pieces are under
the Veditz Day Challenge. Karen Christie created
this piece on the left out of fabric. She actually printed
photos on fabric and was very creative
in creating this piece. It’s beautiful. There’s an old picture of Veditz and his wife, Bessie. At that time, they lived
in Colorado Springs, and this is–
they show the picture of them with their hands
behind their back. Patti: Right, both of them.
Kind of a weird picture, right? Nancy: And so, looking at
that picture, you have to think there’s some hidden reason,
there’s some reason behind them doing that. Patti: Yeah,
I’ve always wondered, why would they have their hands
behind their backs? You know, I don’t think
that Veditz would have done this without any sort of reason. They must have come up
with some sort of meaning with that when they had
the picture taken. What are they doing
behind their backs? I decided to take this idea and show them holding
the deaf flag. I decided that that’s what
you can see right here. There’s a new sign. The union flag, we can
see that there with the turquoise stripes.
Has anyone not seen that? Student: Everyone can see me OK?
Oh, oh, OK. So seeing that both of them have
their hands behind their backs, but they’re holding them
in different ways. So there’s a man on
the left and then… Patti: Yep, this was
for a photograph. So I’ve kind of flipped
the photo in my mind to show where the people are. So in the actual photograph,
they’re facing the front. This camera can see their faces,
but I’ve taken that conception and I’ve flipped it around
so I can imagine what’s going on behind. So they’re not actually like
this in the photograph, but I’ve kind of imagined what they could
be doing behind their backs. Student: I see.
I was wondering about that. Patti: Yeah, you can see,
actually, the flag right back here, the one that
I’ve re-created in the painting. Student: Oh, really?
Patti: Yeah. I’ve taken that idea
and put it back here. So maybe it was polite
at that time to hold your hand
behind your back? I don’t know, but there was
certainly something going on. Nancy: Left hand
or right hand? Patti: Yep, it looks like–
yep, they’re holding their left hands
behind their backs. Audience member: So maybe
there’s the idea of the left hand being evil,
and they want to hide their left hands
in the photographs. That’s something that people
thought back then. The right hand was moral,
left hand immoral, so hiding that left hand
behind their backs. Nancy: Oh, so there might be
some symbolism with that. OK. This piece, adding flowers– Veditz, in his backyard,
was known for growing flowers, and so that’s why it’s
around the border. OK, so this is work with
the #surdismmakesartnotwar. This is a really powerful idea, and powerful artwork came
out of it. Trying to remember
how many artists were involved with this effort;
now, there weren’t many, but their work was
incredibly powerful. Really, every artist brought
something really strong to this challenge,
to this hash tag. So this is
the Inspirational Challenge. This is Morris Broderson. So what the artists had to do
was look at various artworks from an artist,
take an idea from them, and then change it
or make it their own. This is Morris’ work
here on the left, and then the artist’s creation
or the idea that she got from Morris Broderson’s work
on the right–on the left. Morris on the right,
artist’s work on the left. Same thing over here;
you see Morris’ work on the right, with the beam coming
through the ear; and then the face
and the more portrait look over on the left. Oh, this one right here is
the Self Portrait Challenge. This is the Clock Motif. I believe Eric is here
with us today. He’s on his phone. Ha ha! Looks like he might be
on his phone and not noticing, so we have many videos
of his work. Eric’s saying,
“Oh, uh, hi. Whoops.” So we have another video over
here of work, just some really wonderful videos that have been a part of the challenge, and we do have one of Eric’s in the glass gallery. All right, here was
that piece right here. Patti: David Call is white,
but he’s a teacher at the California School
for the Deaf. He’s a very talented artist. d’Estrella, that’s actually a famous deaf teacher
at CSD a long time ago. He taught photography
and he was Mexican, so this piece was in tribute
to that individual. A long time ago, film was used
with glass plates, and they would have
different shows to teach children
about traveling the world with this older technology. Nancy: Sure. There’s
the magic lantern man here. So if you would like to know
any more information, you can go to this web site. We also have information
about a curriculum that we’ve developed. It’s really the place to go to
if you want to know anything more about the motifs,
the meanings behind them. If you’d like to look
at works that have been a part of the many years that
the Challenge has been going on, this is where to go. If you want to know more about the De’ARTivists
United organization, here is a blog that you’re more
than welcome to visit. Patti: Do you want to show–
maybe talk a little bit about this symbol of the hand
with the paint brush? Nancy: Yeah, does anyone
have any ideas why this hand might be used
to show De’VIA art? Oh, here’s one. Audience member: Sure.
Of the missing sense, you know the 5 senses,
you’ve got 4 fingers up, showing you’re missing
one sense. Nancy: That’s right.
That indicates one way of indicating deaf, and we have the
paint brush representing art. Audience member:
Who did that piece? Nancy: This is a David Call
piece right here, mm-hmm. Audience member: Wow.
It’s just beautiful. Nancy: Yes, and that’s
the logo we use for our De’VIA curriculum. Patti: David should come soon. He is actually teaching
a linocut class. Oh, he just arrived. Ha!
Ha ha! What timing. Ha! He’s the tall guy
with the glasses. His artwork–I mean,
he is an artist, he created work all day,
he’s been teaching, and now he’s here
with us tonight. He’s just a prolific artist,
and we’re happy to have him. Nancy: So if any of you–and
your interest has been piqued and you’d like
to join us, you can. Or maybe just for a couple
of days, if you don’t think you’re up
to the whole 28 days. I know we’re all busy. You could also just
do work on the weekends if that would work for you. Now, there is a paper
that we’ll be able to share with you that you’ll be able
to read more about the motifs if you would like to. We also have an art activity
for all of us to get a little hands-on experience
with this today. OK. Thank you so much. If there are any questions,
I’m happy to take them now. Audience member:
I do have a question. I wanted to go back
to the hand with the eye with the finger down
and the paint brush. What made you pick
that idea, that theme? Nancy: Really, this hand shape,
this idea, is from the Nepalese sign
meaning “deaf.” So we took a sign
from another country, felt like it worked great
for us, and incorporated it. Patti: Yeah, it doesn’t
quite look right. You know, if you have
one finger down, I guess, you know, picking
the right finger. This one’s most comfortable,
the ring finger. Audience member: And then,
at the base of the hand, is that a lamp? Nancy: Yes, the lamp
signifies education. It’s the curriculum. We go to deaf schools,
we teach about De’VIA and various artists,
so the lamp is indicating that curriculum
and the idea of education. Audience member:
Wow, that’s great. Patti: And here is David Call
right over here. David: I just arrived from
Rochester School for the Deaf, where I was painting all day,
but I’m glad to be here. Patti: Thank you so much
to Nancy Rourke. Can you imagine how much work
and thought has gone into the De’VIA Challenge,
the Facebook page, organizing the whole calendar?
She’s not paid one bit for this. This is out of the heart
and soul of Nancy Rourke. She works as a full-time artist,
which is an incredible feat, traveling the country
and the world. And the idea
that she makes time to do this community event
is incredible. She wanted to create
the calendar ahead of time to get that out so the artists
could think about and research this stuff. She had to do all
of this way early, and so now you have no excuse,
artists in the audience. Ha! For Nancy, you have a pass,
but everybody else, I hope you have your paint brushes
ready and are ready to join in for this challenge. Behind us is the exhibit;
thanks to Tabitha and the Dyer Arts Center
for hosting this. It’s very exciting,
the first one ever. And also the various
assistants that have helped with this exhibit, all of the artists
that created these pieces. They have been screened. We selected some of
the best pieces that–remember, Nancy mentioned
there were over 600 one of the first years,
then 800, and it’s getting up to
the thousands now, and I really hope that the next iterations
of this challenge will continue to grow and grow. Now I’d like the artists
who are here to come up and explain a little bit
about their artwork, about who they are as artists. Please go ahead
and introduce yourself to the artists and ask them more
about their work because it is on display in
the glass gallery behind us. When the artists come up,
please say your name, your name sign,
where you’re from, and why you joined the De’VIA community,
the Facebook group, but also why you decided to submit
your piece for this exhibit. David: So I had just come
from doing printmaking all day at RSE, and here I am,
so I need to explain what, now? Woman: Your name, your name
sign, where you’re from. Ha ha! David: OK. Hello.
I’m David Call. I teach visual art at the California School
for the Deaf in the Fremont area. I’ve been–oh, hello there. Hi! I’ve been working there
for the past 30 years. I’ve been involved with
the De’VIA Facebook Challenge for many years. I like the idea of the prompt,
trying to think of how I can meet that with
a work of art. This is a maze motif work
that I’ve done. It kind of represents my life. It’s the idea of navigating
throughout life to become who I am. I have gone through
the experience of being a deaf child in a family
without all deaf children, growing up through that. This is the idea
of my life here, so we see various parts
of my life. I have that monkey idea, you know, when you go
to the audiologist and you see that monkey
up there on the shelf. I’m sure many of us have had
that experience, so that’s here. The idea of not being able
to communicate… the idea of making
loud noises, people being able to hear them
and not wanting to hear them, the idea of deafness
being a sickness or an illness,
something to be changed. It’s the idea of feeling
like a dummy, feeling like there are
certain things that are not to be kept, that should be thrown
away; my fingers being constrained, tied up,
not being allowed to sign… being punished for signing, being in a place where
everyone else is speaking, and I’m not even allowed
to communicate, that idea of oralism, the
bullying that I’ve gone through, being a jester, feeling
like I need to entertain, people not treating me
as a full person… testing, being in a test tube, being a subject. There is 12 holes
that you see up there, the 12 people who have died
due to cochlear implantation. We see arrows going
into the birdhouse, and we know that birds can
represent the deaf community. There is that idea
of dark blue coming in there. It’s more punishment
over here… being called out
by someone on duty, being punished for doing things
that were natural to me but were unallowed… having the experience
of people focused on my ear and no other part
of my body… thinking that only
because I’m human, you know, and the medical community
was so focused on my ear, they forgot that I was
a person, too. There’s a stage on the left… mother crying. I wasn’t able
to hear it, of course, but my mother grieving because
her child was deaf. So you know those babies,
that if you pull the string in the back, they say,
“Ma, ma, mom”? I have that idea over there. There’s the idea
of a guillotine as well, having hands cut off… and there’s butterflies
to represent deafhood… the idea of the butterfly
being captured, caught, put into
a specimen board. So this is my maze,
all happening inside of me. If you want to see it
a little bit closer, it’s right back there
in the gallery. Thank you. Karen: Hi, everybody. My name is Karen Christie.
This is my name sign. I am from Rochester, New York. I joined the De’VIA
Challenge because you know the month of February, what that
looks like in Rochester. You guys are all familiar,
mountains of snow. I did not look forward to it,
so the idea of something bright in the month of February
and this De’VIA Challenge got me motivated, you know,
it kept me warm all during the month of February
in my studio, working on art. It was a wonderful experience. Also, in 2017, I felt
like it was more open. You know, in the past,
the Challenge still existed, and there are lots
of very talented artists who were working
in the medium of paint. And I felt like I was
really just not talented in that sense, but if
everybody else was opening up and doing different media,
I felt like my expertise, fabric, I could add something
to the discussion. So I added a patch every day
for the 30 days. I used fabric and then cut out
different pieces and used glue. I didn’t sew because it’s
time-consuming, and that wasn’t really my focus,
but I did create a piece. Sometimes I would cheat;
I admit I’d do two motifs or two days’ worth
of work in one day, but I did complete them all. My goal was to create all
of them and then maybe, amongst different challenges,
I would sew them all together, and that’s what I
ended up doing. But each of
the different patches, to incorporate them in a piece
that had the right composition was a challenge for me, too. I didn’t necessarily want
to put them in order of the month, but I wanted it
to tell a story, to be part of the journey. At the beginning,
the lower end of the piece, you see the motif of a nest. So you see the tree
and the little eggs in the nest, and you can see “ASD”
in the nest, which was really my beginning
of the community here, and the beginning
of the deaf community here in America, the American
School for the Deaf. This is a dog, and the dog’s face
is A.G. Bell’s face drooling because the motif was Bell. You know, think about a dog… has the Pavlovian response,
that experiment. When you ring the bell,
the dinner bell, the dog drools. That same concept
with A.G. Bell. I tried to follow the affirmation
and resistance motifs. She really had some sort
of intuitive plan for all of these because, for me,
when I went through this and tried to create a pattern
or a story with all of these patches, a journey
really did come together. You can see the zipper
on the mouth, representing oralism
and being taught to speak. You can see the fish motif,
which is popular as well, all of this journey that goes
to the end; the mother of all deaf souls, I.F., all
of us living there together– heh!–and that brings us
back to the bottom patch, and the journey starts
over again. And so I created this piece with
all of these different patches, but I didn’t know what to do
with the back of it, and I added Arnaud Balard’s
deaf union flag to the back, and that’s my piece. Rosemary: Hi.
I’m Rosemary Edwards. I have two name signs;
one looks like Rose, the other one I’m not
going to share. So I’m a photographer. So I met Nancy… in Ravenswood Art Club
in the Chicago area, so I met her there originally,
and she explained the Challenge, and I decided to join.
Now, I’m a photographer, but I decided to try my…
attempt at other media. So this was a motif
of musical notes. Is that right? Patti: Yep.
Rosemary: OK, but I’m deaf. I mean, I don’t care
anything about music. I have children who are hearing,
and they’re all about it and I can hear the vibrations,
but I’m like, whatever. If you’re mad at me,
turn up the music. I know you’re upset
just from feeling it, but that’s you,
and not really my thing. So my son is hearing,
really loud. I remember he used to play
the guitar, and other people tried to take care
of that part of his life, but I was thinking about
the idea of the note motif. My son’s 22 now, so I decided,
you know, “Why don’t you play?” So he played, and I thought
about what I was feeling and what music would
really look like to me, and this is
what I came up with. Now, think about the music, and my art, for me,
is really my music, and this is just one more piece
in that collection. Amy: Hi, everybody.
My name is Amy Cohen Efron. This is my sign name. I live in Atlanta, Georgia. I work as a school psychologist
and a counselor. I worked in that field
for 25 years, and that field is all about
the stories of children, and all of their stories really
became a part of mine. I used to write a blog, and that really had
my name attached to it. You know, I was
professionally recognized and chastised on that platform. Now, the vlog, I also had
a similar experience, you know? People wanted to make sure
that I was still professional, and I remained professional,
even in my personal life. Now, for art, my name isn’t
the focus of that piece. You guys interpret the piece. I guess my name
is signed at the bottom, but that was a way for me
to express myself. This piece is entitled
“Dirty Little Secret.” Back at the School
for the Deaf, really there was a lot
of neglect that happened, whether it was budget cuts
or other neglect. People were hired without
a thorough background check… whether they had, you know,
some sort of issue in their past,
criminal or whatnot, especially sexual misconduct. Nobody was screened
before they worked at the School for the Deaf. Now, in the School for
the Deaf that I experienced, they had communal bathrooms. The school was poor. They didn’t have a lot of money
for nice bathroom doors. They had barely a curtain
to give privacy. You can see,
the short figure is a child… and peeking around the corner, another figure. You can see blood on the floor. I know the color is tough
on this monitor. There was a lot of rape
that happened at the School for the Deaf. That story has been told to me
over and over again. I’ve reported it over
and over again from these children
whose stories that I’ve met in my professional life. And even when I talk
to deaf adults, they echo the same story, they say,
“This happened to me, too.” And I really want to thank
Nancy Rourke and Patti Durr to give me the opportunity
to express this, to keep my mind going.
Art is important. It’s important to express
these stories and to tell the truth.
Thank you so much. Eric: Hello. I’m Eric Epstein.
I’m a fifth-year RIT student. So I didn’t know anything
about the De’VIA Challenge until someone from a camp that I used to go to… let me know about it. Some of you might know
about Ian Sanborn. You saw his “Tick Tock,” that video that he made, and it reminded me of one
of the first ASL stories that I heard–
or that I saw, rather, about, like,
a little caterpillar. So I was thinking about that,
I was thinking about Ian Sanborn’s work. And for the first week,
I made a few poems, and then, I have to admit, I did not
continue to post every day. This one is called
“Scrollwriter,” and it’s an–honoring
George Veditz, the idea of opening the Torah, and having it be a place where things that are cherished
and are sacred are being saved. So this is one of the things
that I’ve done. I also have a YouTube video
that goes into all of the different aspects
of this poem. You can see that online. Laurie: Hi, everybody. I’m Laurie.
I’m from Rochester. The medium that I chose
is watercolor. I was inspired by a piece
by Morris Broderson. I don’t know if you can see it;
it’s sort of small on this monitor, but it’s
a person leaning over to listen to see if there’s a sound
coming from this flower. I think it’s a tulip
that’s depicted here. And I really liked
that concept a lot, and I decided to borrow it
and incorporate it here. This person could be
male or female, but they’ve got
the old-fashioned hearing aids. That’s what I experienced
when I was a kid, that system with the body loop
and everything. Ha! So I was thinking about that. This flower is actually
called, um… the bella flower. The flowers are
in the shape of bells, and when I saw that, I felt
like it had a deeper meaning. You know, the flowers
were shaped like bells. And I have this figure here,
wondering about that flower. You know, it’s called “bell,”
the flowers are in the shape of bells. Do they make a sound, too?
So that’s my piece. Thanks. Bob: Hello. I’m Bob Rourke. I’m from Alexandria, Virginia. This right over here is Nancy, my sister-in-law. So we’ve known each other
for a long time. I’ve seen her artwork change
and evolve over the years. So she has this challenge, and in 2016, I decided
I should go ahead and do it. She had been on me
for a while to do that–heh!– and it was difficult
because I had a full-time job and working there,
working in Colorado for the federal government
for many years, and decided to get
a little bit more artistic and joined the Challenge
in 2016. So last year was
the 200th anniversary of ASL, and that was one of the themes
that we had that year. This is called “LSFNVSL
Rock Boat Art”… French sign language mixing with
Martha’s Vineyard sign language, and that idea is here
in this art. We know that when Laurent Clerc
came over on the boat and brought French sign language
and it became in contact with Martha’s Vineyard,
that’s where it all started. So this was Rock Art.
That was the motif. This is kind of touching on that
idea of the older cave paintings and what those look like. I used sponges and acrylic art, and I had to practice before I
made my final piece. Ha! I had several sketches at first,
and finally I made it work because the sponges were
a new medium for me. You can see this figure
over here waving, this figure signing “deaf,” and you can see they’re
all on this boat, which is made of hands. There’s a wooden box, actually
made by another deaf man, who’s created several
different wooden boxes, who lives in the same area
as I do–Tony Heller. I’m not sure if you’re
familiar with him. Graduated from Gallaudet,
he made, I think, over a thousand
different boxes. They’re really intricate,
beautiful pieces, and he actually gave me that, and so I
wanted to incorporate this in this piece as well. Did you have a question? [Audience member coughs] Audience member:
So did you graduate from here? Bob: I graduated
from Gallaudet. Audience member: That looks
like one of the dorms. Bob: Oh, cool.
Audience member: Ha ha ha! That’s where all the deaf
students are, so that’s actually kind of perfect
that that shape is there. Bob: Cool. All right. Nancy: Everyone,
I’m Nancy Rourke. This is my sign name.
I’m from Colorado. This challenge was related
to deaf history. There was no motif,
just deaf history was the theme. And so I chose… misrepresentation. I was actually in France,
in Paris this past summer, and I had the opportunity to see
this real painting in person, and it’s quite large. They had a tour, and the tour
guide was explaining the piece. I entered this large room
with these incredible but very big paintings
hung on the wall. The tour guide let us in,
and this caught my eye. I recognized it immediately, and the tour guide said,
“Did you actually know that all the paintings in this room are
actually made by deaf artists?” And I said, “No,
that’s not the case. “This is not made
by a deaf artist. This is actually a hearing
artist,” which caught the tour guide off-guard
a little bit, and he said, “Well, no,
he had a deaf daughter.” He was mistaken because Sicard was
really good friends with this painter,
who was hearing. Sicard said he wanted
to change this famous quote. This is Massieu, and he has
this famous quote… “Gratitude is the
remembrance of the heart.” You can see that in yellow. That’s his quote, but Sicard told the artist, “You know, you should use
my quote instead.” And you can see that
on the top here. And he actually didn’t know. Now, Laurent Clerc was
a student at that time, his student, and was learning from his professor
in this scene. Sicard really was
supporting oralism. You can see that here,
in how he’s teaching this young girl how to speak, like the boy in this painting. The hearing artist painted
this other piece, as you can see here,
with this boy. The deaf student
in the classroom saw the picture of the boy
and got very upset because it was a hearing boy in this class,
not a deaf boy, and took offense to that. You know, “I don’t want
that boy in the painting “because he’s hearing.
I want him out of the picture.” But that actually
never happened. So my idea was to actually
just cut off his head–heh!– but still have
his body in the frame. And I support Massieu and his quote instead. Bonnie: Hello. I’m Bonnie Sandy. I’m from Ohio.
Columbus, Ohio. I grew up making art. My parents, who were both deaf, gave me all kinds of
art supplies when I was young. I realized, though, when I was
older, that you can’t really make a good life as an artist,
and I later on had two kids. My eldest went through a lot
of experience with depression and difficult times like that
and did attempt suicide. She went to therapy,
and the therapist asked where the respite was, where she was
getting some outlet. I thought about that as well. I met with my friend,
Jennifer Witteborg. She was visiting me, and we were
talking about this idea. She suggested art,
so I started doing that. My husband Steven was doing
some research at the time with Dummy Hoy,
and they were thinking about making a movie
the following March, so they had purchased a painting
from Nancy about Dummy Hoy, and they were talking about that
and the concept of De’VIA. And then Nancy came to do some volunteer teaching at
the School for the Deaf there, and I just started
to learn more and more, and I really became
very interested in pursuing this line of work, and it really
just swept me away. I did this for the Challenge
last year, in February. It was a Brick Motif. It was a resistance theme,
and I was really thinking about what I could do
to bring this idea to life. I grew up in a more
oral situation in St. Louis. Now, both of my parents
were deaf, and all of my friends
who were also deaf would just love to come
and talk with my parents. I told my parents not to sign
at school, though, at the School for
the Deaf there. I started getting involved
with the Deaf Club and organizations and sports. After I was done at that school, I was mainstreamed
in high school and I went to an alumni event
after that point. This was in 1981, and I met
some individuals there, and a little bit later,
someone said, “Oh, do you go to
the Deaf Club?” and I said, “No, not so much anymore,” and they
said, “Oh, you should come.” So all of these ideas are
kind of represented here in this work–
you see the hands, and I’ve cut out a space
in the bricks, showing the hands
kind of looking in. There’s the idea of the Deaf
Club being shown through there. Deaf Clubs, events–I had
so many pictures from all the experiences that I’d had,
and they are kind of montaged here, in this space
between the hands. The hands represent some
of the friends that I had back when I was younger,
kind of looking through this space in the wall,
looking at the things that they would like
to be a part of. I’m not sure if they grew up
to ever become socialized in the adult deaf world or not.
Hopefully they have. So I have a lot to thank, from my parents being
very supportive of me. I have to thank Elizabeth
Williams as another inspiration. She sponsored this gallery show. So I also have to thank
the therapist and my friend, Jennifer Witteborg, who really
were very instrumental in pushing me and helping me
become the artist I am today. Patti: OK, so like she
mentioned, we have a web site with many different examples
of pictures of the art that people created
for this challenge, the De’VIA Central
Facebook page. I’ll see you guys there. I hope you guys try to do
one or two, 4 or 5, you know. Try to complete some aspect
of the challenge. One year, my husband was saying,
“Ah, you know, in February, “I’m just–I feel like I’m going
to become a widower “because you are truly
in love with your art, and that’s your only focus
during the month of February.” I do try, just like Nancy, to finish every piece
by midnight of that day. I try to keep myself going
with that, but it’s hard. It is a real challenge. So the February Challenge,
we have papers over there with the full calendar,
all the different motifs. You can start early if you want.
I encourage that, really. Think about one word,
like “target,” for example, or “robot” or “a beehive.” Think about what that means
to you and share ideas. We’ll have a reception. Don’t be shy.
Give it a chance. We actually have
an art activity. Don’t be afraid
to get messy. We’re going to do that
in a little bit. We want to make a big banner,
actually, with handprints, and so everyone’s handprints
creating this larger mural. This is actually
an old banner that we made, but I’m hoping that
your handprints on this piece we’ll actually bring
to the Deaf Club tomorrow, and we’ll be teaching
a painting event there. We’re actually going to be
replicating this piece, the ASL Champ piece. It’s $30 if you’re interested. You can learn from the master,
Nancy Rourke herself. But we’ll take a little bit
of a break right now. We’ve got the reception,
but also, we’re going to be completing this mural,
and you can see that as well. Hopefully we’ll be able
to create something even cooler this year. The flier for tomorrow’s event. We have a few openings left. You can send money
through PayPal. I think that’s everything. Thank you so much for attending.
Thank you.

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