2000 ASL Immersion Weekend Workshop

“De’Via” – Deaf Art and Artists
Presented by Dr. Paul Johnston

A unique, vibrant, and eloquent minority genre of art arising from Deaf culture was given

international attention: it is called DEAF VIEW/IMAGE ART, or DE’VIA. This art “uses
formal art elements with the intention of expressing innate cultural or physical deaf
For centuries, most Deaf artists sought to compete with hearing artists for the attention
of the general public and they avoided including, Deaf experience or themes in their
artwork. Beginning in the 1980s, Deaf themes and experiences started to be more
clearly illustrated in the work of many gifted Deaf artists.
Deaf Art communicates more than the sensory experience of silence. Many artists
include ideas about:
– the beauty of sign language
– oral training
– frustrations in communicating
– painful oppression
– cultural pride
– breakdown of family life when hearing parents cannot communicate
– joys of Deaf bonding and heritage
– residential school life
– technology used within the Deaf community (TTY/TDD, closed captioning, etc.)
– turning points in the artist’s acculturation to Deaf culture, such as the discovery of
– turning points in the history of Deaf people, such as the 1880 Milan Congress
prohibiting signed languages in Europe and America