Artists from De'VIA 2021 Exhibition

Amy Cohen Efron

Amy Cohen Efron was born Deaf, she dabbled in different art mediums to express her innermost thoughts and feelings growing up. This was the only way that she could effectively communicate throughout her childhood years. Cohen Efron earned dual degrees in Studio Art and Psychology at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC. She started her professional career as a school psychologist in 1992, and continues working in the field for 26 years. Recently, Cohen Efron experienced a “mid-life crisis” and started dabbling in art to cope through this time.

In 2016, Amy participated in Facebook’s De’VIA Central’s February Art Challenge and her Language First was displayed at Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. In 2017, several of her artworks were displayed at Mammal Gallery in Atlanta, as well as her painting entitled Disorder at The Studio Door in San Diego, California. The words entitled, The Dirty Little Secret, Crowning Ceremony, and Learned Helplessness were all shown at the Dyer Arts Center in Rochester, New York in January 2018. Tree of Life: American Sign Language and We Have Been Watching You were displayed in City Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in March 2019. In summer 2019, several of her artworks were selected and displayed at Florida Deaf Art Show in Tampa, Florida.

Cohen Efron participated in 2017 and 2018’s Inktober Art Challenges, and several of her artworks gained much attention in a political arena. The Teeming Crowd of Pussies (Inktober, 2017) was selected and published in Deaf Poet’s Society Online Journal in March 2018. The Blue Wave of Stars (Inktober, 2018) is displayed at one of the House of Representatives’ office and featured in POLITICO video, and Abrams in Georgia (Inktober, 2018) is been re-tweeted twice by Leader Stacey Abrams, Founder and Chair of Fair Fight 2020 in August 16-17, 2019.

The Periodic Table of Hate and Intolerance is currently displaying at Ikouii Gallery in Atlanta, GA.

Artist’s Statement: My art is about my Deaf experience, focusing on the relationship between my perspectives on society as well as how society perceives me. All of my artworks are visually striking, explosive, subliminal, and abstract. I do not limit myself to one medium, style, or concept. My work is a constant search to show advertising imagery, with hidden messages, bold colors, strong lines, and using symbolism to interpret the absurdity, resistance and celebration of my experiences. I try addressing controversial themes and raising thought-provoking questions through art. It is my goal for creating art as an agent for social change.
If a viewer stops for just a moment to view, think, and reflect on artwork I have created, then I have succeeded.

Artists from De'VIA 2021 Exhibition

Brad Thornberry

Brad Thornberry grew up in Parkrose, Oregon. He studied art at Western Oregon University before transferring to Cal State Northridge to finish his degree in Deaf Studies. Brad developed an interest in art at an early age. He built a wood robot with the help of his father when he was young. Later he discovered drawing and painting with acrylics. While a teenager, Brad’s art won an award from the Parkrose Elks Club, as well as had a featured piece in the Oregonian. Brad has worked with various mediums throughout his life but enjoys working with acrylics and foam pumpkins. Brad currently teaches college-level ASL. He lives in Camas, Washington with his wife and two sons.

Brad’s work heavily focuses on his experience navigating through both deaf and hearing worlds. He wants to capture the clashes between two cultures and their histories. In his work, he wants to examine, praise and mock at society. He likes to take images from pop culture and transform them into other ways one could never imagine. He starts with a scene or idea, and it takes on a life of its own, with many transformations occurring before the piece is finished.

Artists from De'VIA 2021 Exhibition

Bridget Klein

I am Bridget Klein. I grew up on small family farm in Wisconsin where I had plenty of land to roam. I would run through fields of corn, or idly sit by the pond. Watching the seasons change and the life cycle of animals and plants has had an impact on my art. When out in nature, I see art everywhere, even how the full moon shines through the forest is inspiration for art. Growing up in this rural environment, I had the freedom to daydream. Daydreaming allowed me to be creative and full of ideas. When I had a unique, creative thought, I applied my ideas while experimenting with art through the process of trial and error. At that time growing up, I didn’t realize that I had such a rich opportunity to be innovative, while today I am too busy even to think! I need to remind myself that it is okay to be bored, that is when creative thought processes emerge.
In the future, Bridget Klein hopes to conduct research about language and Deaf queers over 60 years old. Also I have been a faculty member at Bloomsburg University for almost 10 years.

Artists from De'VIA 2021 Exhibition

Cicely Boga

My name is Cicely, but some of my friends call me "Cizzy".

A native to Chicago, Illinois, USA, I was born to a hearing signing family who played a partial factor in my success. It was my experience as a deaf black woman that pushed me forward in life.

Growing up loving art, I used to paint and created collages using photos. It wasn't until I started to study Education at Northeastern Illinois University, I begin to realize my true medium in clay. Soon I began to experiment with other mediums such as wood and metal. I am currently taking a hiatus from my artwork to focus on my teaching career.

I have an Associate's Degree from Harold Washington College and a Bachelor's degree in Education from Northeastern Illinois University. I am currently pursuing a Master's in Deaf Education at Gallaudet University.

Artists from De'VIA 2021 Exhibition

David Call

David Call, a Deaf artist, was born in Los Angeles, California around the 1960s. His parents and oldest brother were hearing while his middle brother and him were Deaf. David attended the Hearing Institute in Los Angeles for speech training at an early age but did not benefit from his experience there. He attended the California School for the Deaf and later on Gallaudet University, where he met his wife, Debbie, and graduated with a BA in public education and history. David earned his MA degree in special education from the California State University and is currently pursuing his teaching career in art at the California School for the Deaf.

From a young age, David had a love for art because it was a medium that helped him communicate with his parents during a time when sign language wasn’t introduced in his life yet. During his time in public school in Southern California, David was placed in a class for the Deaf and was discouraged from using gestures to communicate. He was often isolated from other hearing students and made fun of because he was Deaf. These experiences caused him to get into trouble in two public schools until his mother decided to acquaint David with sign language.

David learned to sign in Signing Exact English (SEE) and later on American Sign Language (ASL) which helped him ease into the Deaf community and identity. After he took a visual arts class, David was motivated to explore different mediums and was fascinated with art literature and art history. He taught social studies for 18 years before replacing an art teacher and teaching Deaf-centered visual arts. The Deaf View/Image Art movement, also known as, the De’VIA Art movement was a topic that David focused on and he, himself, became a part of this movement.

Block cut prints, ink drawings, and linocut prints were the main mediums David worked with in his exploration of the Deaf experience. He originally sold his De’Via art pieces to raise money for his classroom art supplies and ended up creating his own online art business for his work. David continues his artistic path and hopes to inspire his own Deaf students to find their own identity through this form of expression.

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Artists from De'VIA 2021 Exhibition

Delora Bertsch

Delora Bertsch is a ceramic artist. She received her Bachelor of Arts Degree and a Single Subject Teaching Credential in Art Education at California State University of Long Beach, and obtained a degree in Graphic Design from Golden West College in Huntington Beach.
Delora has participated in numerous art shows where her art works have been exhibited throughout United States.

Delora was also known as a De'Via deaf artist which she uses formal art elements with the intention of expressing innate cultural and her personal deaf experience. She is currently teaching ceramic class and raku workshops at the Angels Gate Cultural Center.

Artists from De'VIA 2021 Exhibition

Diane A. Squires

Diane Squires is a mixed media artist. She also is a dog walker through Rover.
She was educated at the Gallaudet University with a bachelor’s in Psychology in ‘91.  She also was educated at the Northeastern University with a certificate in computer graphic Design ‘94.  She mostly does the artworks thru her iPad.  She will begin her paintings this Fall.  Diane loves the culture of Boston and Plymouth. She has been living in the South Shore of Massachusetts with her loving dog Carmen for many years. She enjoys spending her free time walking with her sister weekly.  She also enjoys spending with her family and friends nearby. If you’d like to get in touch with me. I can be reached at the Facebook.

Artists from De'VIA 2021 Exhibition

Dr. Tony Landon McGregor

Dr. Tony Landon McGregor, a Southwestern De’ VIA Deaf artist, is based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, known as the heart of the Southwest. Tony is well-known for wood-burning gourd art techniques that reflect both American Deaf culture and Native American cultures in the Southwest and he also incorporates turquoise stones, Navajo jewelry, and Zuni animal fetishes on the gourds. This unique juxtaposition of two cultures concept was created and became known as Southwestern De’ VIA art, which he debuted at the 5th Deaf Studies Conference’s national juried Deaf art show in Oakland, California in 1999.

Dr. McGregor had earned four degrees in Studio Art, Art Education, and multicultural Special Education from the University of Texas at Austin. His doctoral dissertation focused on the life history of a Dine Deaf rug weaver, living on the Navajo reservation in the Four Corners area. In addition, he had illustrated and published five children’s books that center on Deaf culture and history. Dr. McGregor teaches Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing children full-time in New Mexico. On the side, he spends time painting watercolors or wood-burning gourds with Southwestern De’ VIA themes.

Artists from De'VIA 2021 Exhibition

Eddie Swayze

I was born with the hearing loss due to Rubella and grew up in Ithaca, NY. I attended Rochester School for the Deaf (by dormitory) and then mainstreamed at Horseheads middle and high school, made possible by BOCES program. I’m a visual artist since childhood. I graduated from RIT with Master of Fine Arts degree, majoring in Painting and Illustration, in 1995. Lately, I have been creating digital images. My work have many special effects or visual manipulations that go beyond ordinary or traditional look. I explored special effects by using several apps in iPhone, apps in iPad and apps plus downloaded graphic arts softwares in iMac laptop , which they enabled me to create unique or unusual special effects beyond just PhotoShop.

As a deaf gay artist, I’m showing myself with dignity and pride in many photos. There are rainbows in the photos in many of my work, especially self-portraits. There are LGBTQ artwork that are political or related to sexuality. In my Flickr site: x, there are several themes, which are LGBTQ, self-portraits, Deaf culture, political, LED lights/high technology, and science fiction.

Artists from De'VIA 2021 Exhibition

Ellen Mansfield

Born in Manhattan in 1960, Ellen Mansfield’s love for art developed at an early age. Ellen, who was born deaf, struggled in school since she did not have access to sign language or interpreters. She found that art provided her with a visual voice, allowing her to express feelings of isolation and neglect she has experienced throughout her life. Pursuing her passion, Ellen worked with a variety of media on drawings, paintings and ceramics and earned a BFA in Illustration from the School of Visual Arts in New York City in 1984.
It was not until she moved to Maryland, a year later, that she began to realize just how much her Deaf identity defined her as an artist.

Deafhood, a term coined by Dr. Paddy Ladd, signifies the process of understanding and embracing one’s Deaf identity. For many, the Deafhood journey involves Deaf View/Image Art (De’VIA), a genre that emerged in the late 1980’s. This style of Visual Arts represents Deaf experiences in a hearing dominant culture through repeated imagery. For example, depictions of mouths represent Deaf people being pressured to read lips or communicate through speech. Hands, however, symbolize the celebration of signed languages, such as the American Sign Language.

As a De’VIA artist, Ellen incorporates similar imagery into her artworks to communicate emotions such as fear and depression, but also pride and resilience. Ellen believes that sharing De’VIA within the hearing dominant community will promote awareness about Deaf struggles and ensure that the rights of Deaf people, most especially children, are not denied.

Her activism in the community is reflected among her many achievements, such as coordinating a special exhibition of 40 Deaf artists in DC, being chosen as one of three finalists for a public works art initiative in Minnesota and participating in an International Deaf Art Exhibition " World Heard By Soul" in Russia. She also has over 25 pieces acquisitioned into public and private collections across the United States and Canada.

Artists from De'VIA 2021 Exhibition

Fred Michael Beam

Fred Michael Beam is currently outreach coordinator of RIT/NTID Sunshine 2.0 . Fred has been an visual artist since he was a child. He won first place in Temple Terrace Art Competition in Tampa, FL. when he was Senior in high school. His earliest his artistic work appeared in NTID program pageant book(when he was a student there), Black Deaf Advocate Pageants, Gallaudet Dance Company concert, just to name a few.

After a number of years of putting his artistic talent on hold, he decided to pursue his passion in visual arts again. His work was shown at many several art exhibitions including Kentucky Deaf Festival, Gallaudet University, National Black Deaf Advocates, DC Pepco Edison Place Gallery, Columbia, College, NTID Dyer Arts Gallery ,California State of Northridge, just to name a few. Lately, after Black Lives Matter Movement, Fred's passion for black deaf arts went up. He felt that we BlackDeaf's voice (one word) should be visible and heard all around the world.

Director, Choreographer, Dancer of two internationally tour dance company: The Wild Zappers , all deaf male dance company and National Deaf Dance Theater , mainstreamed dance company . He was one of the pioneer in creating ASL music/dance videos and was in "Lonely Little Monster", which won an award in Best Music Video in Disability Arts Award Ceremony in Hollywood, California. He was the first deaf choreographer in DC to work in any theater production in Washington, DC (Helen Hayes award nominated, Jesus Christ Superstar).

Performing Artist, Actor and Poet who has performed in many theater afflictions.Among many accomplishments in theater, He made history by performing in first Black Deaf play, I Didn't Hear That Color, written by Bob Daniel and first black deaf, to play the role , Othello in a Shakespeare play, Othello, and was also first deaf to play the black deaf lead rcharacter in equity play "By the Sphere of Music" in Goodman Theater in Chicago. He also produced and directed numerous plays in his career.

Among his many accomplishments, He is proud that he was one of the Essence magazine Real Man of the Year and also Deaf Person of the Month in Deaf Life magazine. He also got a key from the city of Birmingham, Alabama for his outstanding work in the field of performing arts.

Artists from De'VIA 2021 Exhibition

Ivana Hay Tetauerova 

She was born in 1979 in Plzen, Czech Republic as deaf to hearing parents. Her artistic talent has been developed since she was a child. Immediately after starting the primary school for the deaf in Prague, she started attending the deaf art club, led by deaf artist, and later also afternoon public art school. She also regularly participated in art shows and competitions for the deaf at the national level or in summer art camps for the deaf. Later, she took over the baton as the main leader of the summer art camp under the SORDOS, the Deaf Culture Association. During her studies at the grammar school for the deaf, she attended an evening course of figural drawing at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague. After graduation, she studied Special Education and Art Education at the Faculty of Education, Masaryk University in Brno.

During her university studies, she led an art club for the deaf children. In 2002, she completed a semester-long study stay at the University of Wolverhampton in England, where she studied British Sign Language (BSL), English, illustrations for newspapers and magazines, and illustrations for younger audiences. She finished her university studies with a diploma thesis on the topic "Vocabulary development in deaf children using illustrations", for which she received the Dean's Award.

She also studied Deaf studies and Czech sign language linguistics at the Faculty of Arts, Charles University in Prague. At the same time, she taught Art education at a secondary school for the deaf in Prague. From 2005 to 2006, she was the editor-in-chief of UNIE magazine, where she also contributed her illustrations. Her works include illustrations for various magazines, books and projects for the Deaf.

Ivana also likes to paint with acrylic on canvas. She had many exhibitions of her artwork, organized on the occasion of deaf cultural events and exhibitions at deaf art festivals in the Czech Republic and abroad, such as Nitra (Slovakia), Reims (France), Wolverhampton, Birmingham (Great Britain).

In England, she was also a member of the Deaf Arts Network UK. Now she works as a teacher at the secondary school for the deaf in Prague, she is the editor of the magazine Unie and an English teacher at Czech Union of the Deaf, where she also runs art workshops for the deaf. She is currently working on a doctoral thesis on Art Education Didactics at the Faculty of Education, Charles University in Prague. Together with her deaf colleague, she cofounded the group for deaf artists called Czech Deaf Art 3+1 and organize various art workshops for the deaf, lectures on art history, photo courses, art competitions and recently began interviews with deaf artists under the name Czech Deaf Art Cafe.

Artists from De'VIA 2021 Exhibition

Jessica Arevalo

I’m a deaf graphic designer based in Hayward, CA. I recently graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York with a BFA degree in graphic design. I have had a passion for art and illustration since I was little. I depend heavily on my sense of vision as this benefits me greatly in my type of career. I give keen attention to detail and understand visual communication. If you’re looking for someone to design something fun and exciting, you’re in the right place. I enjoy working on a variety of projects, including logo/branding, print design, apparel, advertising, book covers, layouts, and more. Plus, I like working on a project that allows me to experiment with new techniques. I often find myself observing things around me such as art, architecture, designs in public areas and nature, this is where I get my creativity and inspiration from. I also enjoy taking photos, drawing, the outdoors and hiking.

Artists from De'VIA 2021 Exhibition

Jon A. Kastrup

I have been an artist in San Francisco for 20 plus years. Abstract Expressionism is known for my speciality. De'VIA is my area of improvement - challenging. It's not my strength. I thought I should grab the opportunity to challenge my area of improvement for De'VIA submission.De'VIA brought the best out of me through the work of DeVIA art project.
I have made at least 14 5"x8" collage cards. They turned out better than I expected. 

The collages I have done are in the combination of propaganda, promotion and pop-art. They are somewhere in between resistance and rebellion. I perceived a resistance against audism and oralism that did not get us anywhere unless we revolted.

I realized we somewhat have a lack of a mass production of Deaf propaganda billboards all over walls to promote us to revolt against oralism and audism. This is what my collages all about.

Artists from De'VIA 2021 Exhibition

Jon Savage

Growing up with a photographer/videographer father and hair stylist/craft artist mother, both who had deep roots and aspirations, I had fueled my artistic creativity for as long as I can remember. I became more fascinated with the arts during his childhood years. I fell in love with all types of media/visual arts, such as photography, video editing, cinematography, acting and painting in different times and places.

Throughout my Deaf childhood, I had remained passionately devoted to educating Deaf people about the linguistic, social, political and cultural issues of the Deaf community by traveling across the states and countries. Late 2011, I desires and aspirations to be an artist were once again fueled. I began creating contemporary art paintings based on people and classical subjects that inspired me by using abstract, bright colors and clean cut painting style. Currently I using my paintings/photographs as life stories that are reflected in my visual journey.

Artists from De'VIA 2021 Exhibition

José Granda

Jose Granda, who was born in Cuba (“Pure Cuban!”), now lives in Miami, Florida. He started working in watercolor when he was ten years old and recently returned to art after a 40-year hiatus. He attended the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind in 1973 and subsequently taught art there. He was involved in the National Theatre of the Deaf in 1977 and graduated from Gallaudet University in 1979. He currently teaches in the Sign Language Interpretation Program at Miami-Dade College. He has conducted ASL-related workshops and presentations and is also known nationally for his touring comedy performance, " Dr. XXX."

Artists from De'VIA 2021 Exhibition

Laurie Rose Monahan

I took art classes in high school for five years. I was a student at RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology) from 1987 to 1990. Studied Media Production. Received AAS. Few years later, I took training classes about how to use Adobe softwares. I had been working as a graphic designer/Mac artist for about 15 years for 3 different companies. After I got laid off from Democrat and Chronicle, I went back to RIT in 2010 and studied the Fine Arts Studio program. Becoming a painter was a different, more traditional, form of expression, using brushes and paints instead of technology. This change excited and enlivened me as an artist.​
In my painting, printmaking, and digital designing, I am passionate about the beauty of visual textures as well as the variety of colors, patterns, and abstract forms. Employing different media makes me feel free to visually communicate whatever is in my heart and mind.
I have been involved with the art movement, Deaf View/Image Art (De'VIA) for a long time. It positively changed my life. De'VIA gave me encouragement and straight through empowerment to illustrate my feelings about the struggles as I had while growing up as a Deaf individual in a hearing family.
​I am an Artist in Residence (AIR) with Nancy Rourke as my mentor. I am also on the board for Surdists United. I used to teach a recreational after-school art class at Rochester School for the Deaf and I occasionally volunteer at Deaf Refugees Advocacy as an art advisor. In 2016, I established Queer De’VIA in Facebook for queer artists to share their work.
I finished an illustrated children's book about Betty G. Miller, hopefully it will be published this year (2021).
I have been painting a lot (both oil and acrylic) during COVID pandemic.

Artists from De'VIA 2021 Exhibition

Lori Dunsmore

Lori Dunsmore is a self-taught visual artist specializing in collages, photo montages, oil pastels, and acrylics. Her expressed work is largely a reflective of her ability to look at scenarios with depth that some may choose to look away from such as exposing the rawness of the bare soul, emotions, and milestones.

Like every human, Lori's life went through all sorts of evolved moments which allowed her to express interpretations intuitively though visual mediums as it continues to be a human awakening. Time is devoted with her continuation to learn varieties of interpreted creativity and originality by making it meaningful as a Deaf female artist.

Lori believes that everyone is their own stories and her story is defined through her visual creations.

Artists from De'VIA 2021 Exhibition

Nancy Rourke

I started drawing and painting at age six without my parents knowing I was born Deaf. I grew up in San Diego,
and went to a strict oral program in a hearing school.
All of my childhood life, I was always creating new pieces, and exhibited my artwork—everything from painting rocks to canvases—at art fairs, in contests, and at galleries from childhood to high school.  I went on to study graphic design and painting at the National Technical Institute of the Deaf and Rochester Institute of Technology in New York and earned a master’s degree in computer graphic design and painting.

In 1979, I had my very first showing at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. I then was among 12 Deaf artists participating at the Heart, Eye, Hand exhibit held at the Los Angeles-based Ankrum Gallery. This gallery was owned by Joan Ankrum, Morris Broderson’s aunt. Morris Broderson was a famous Deaf artist. It was at this point in my life that I stopped painting. I did not have full confidence in my chances at success in the art community, so I chose to become a 9-to-5 employee.

I worked as a graphic designer for 20 years. I was a graphic designer at Xerox in San Diego. My next job was as a palette designer for 20th Century Fox, where I created color palettes to colorize classic black and white films such as Casablanca, King Kong, Sherlock Holmes, and numerous John Wayne films. In 1991, I moved to Seattle, where I worked as a graphic designer for Microsoft Corporation designing Windows icons. I unexpectedly got laid off. I decided it was time to get back to painting. I took a couple of workshops in preparation for my return to painting business. For eight years, I painted everything from portraits to landscapes and cityscapes to still life.

It was until 2010, I started making art that is based on the Deaf culture, history and Deaf experience. I had discovered my passion.

Artists from De'VIA 2021 Exhibition

Neena Suresh

Most of my inspiration comes directly from my childhood and years of trying to fit into a mold that others thought I should fit in. I was born and raised in India until I was 17 years old. At the age of three, I contracted meningitis which caused severe hearing loss. My parents had me try hearing aids and speech therapies while I was growing up. Since I am completely deaf, these methods were inefficient. In speech therapies, I struggled to speak clearly with my voice. From that point on, my frustrations came about from not only having to deal with a language barrier, but also by being deprived of a language in general. Due to lack of educational access for the Deaf in India, my family and I moved to the United States in 2005. This is when I was finally able to learn both English and American Sign Language (ASL).

Today I want to highlight my series, “My Deaf Life”. My Deaf Life series contains negative images and struggles throughout my childhood. This series conveys messages to the viewers so they can empathize with such struggles and see different perspectives of Deaf people’s difficulties in a hearing world.

My Deaf Life series exhibits language deprivation, audism, the impact of oralist oppression, and communication barriers, which I experienced growing up. Through this series I portrayed the hurdles that I had to deal with and how I managed to overcome those difficulties. I chose gray monochrome colors to represent my lost identity and cold color palettes for the backgrounds that represent the conflicts of being in a hearing world. For example: “Be Quiet!” is a self-portrait of me as a child being unable to understand what the hearing adults were saying. The goal of this piece was to show others the frustrations that one has when growing up Deaf.

Despite all my struggles, I have found my own path in life. Art is a great form of expression that helps me communicate through all barriers. I believe that my messages and perseverance are portrayed throughout my artwork.

Artists from De'VIA 2021 Exhibition

Pamela Witcher

Interpreter, translator, cultural mediator, museum curatorship and multidisclipinary artist, Pamela finds it necessary to overlap old and new discoveries that have the power to change views and ideas. When the Deaf communities create information through art and documentation, our existence become concrete, known and valued. Pamela’s works have been featured in Deaf Culture Centre,, Edinburgh International Book Festival, Ecomusée du fier monde, Quebec on the Move!, À Bâbord and Signed Music: A Symphonious Odyssey. Her most recent signed music performances were portrayed at Phenomena Festival 2019; VIBE Symposium 2018: Challenging ableism and audism through the arts; Celebration of Sign Language 2015: Revisiting Language, Literacy, and Performing Arts symposium at Towson University, and Les Drags te font signe at Chez Mado cabaret. Parallelly, Pamela works as a Community Relations Manager with Canada’s Video Relay Service.

Artists from De'VIA 2021 Exhibition

Paul Johnston

Paul Johnston was born deaf to hearing parents who did not use sign language or become familiar with deaf culture. His parents were however, artists. He was raised in Los Angeles and taught himself art and how to communicate in society despite living in a phonocentric world.

For 33 years Dr. Johnston taught at Gallaudet University. For most of that time he was a member of the art department. He was also a founding member of De’VIA (an acronym for Deaf View Image Art). He helped establish a framework for how to discuss and generate art based on Deaf experiences. His research centers around the roles of education, criticism, theory, history, and artistic practice on Deaf artist Lives, Deaf Creativity and Deaf pieces of work. Dr. Johnston is a frequent lecturer, exhibition juror, critic, moderator and guest artist at venues in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. In 2011 he was artist in residence at Siena Art Institute in Siena, Italy. In an experimental design class at Penn State, Dr. Johnston taught hearing students and empowered them to translate their hearing access and experience into art. His students inspired him to focus on the concept of Visual Music as a new genre. He explores the connections between thinking, feeling and imagining music.

Expressive in many mediums, Dr. Johnston was the first deaf student to receive a Bachelor of Fine Arts in furniture design and woodworking from the School for American Craftsman at Rochester Institute of Technology. He holds a master’s and doctoral degree in art education with Phi Delta Kappa honors from Penn State University.

His visual artistry is not confined to canvas. As an actor, Dr. Johnston was a company member of the National Theatre of the Deaf, and faculty member of the Division of Performing Arts at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at the Rochester Institute of Technology. He was an original designer of Signing Mime — a performing company — where he wrote and directed two experimental plays. He has taught and led workshops and lectures on ASL poetry, creative signing and visual gestural communication.
How can someone who hears no sounds interpret music? This question has been at the forefront of my mind for many years. My series titled “Soundless Mind” attempts to answer that question with what I consider visual symphonic design. Just as music relies on melody, harmony and rhythm, my works showcase how line, shape, texture and color blend together in unison to make visual sound. Just as a composer would do, I establish various motifs and symbolism that give these works their form and structure. I use ASL initially to compose the pieces followed by quick sketching that reflects the poetry of my mind. The goal for my non-representational art is to bring about the same depth of emotion and reflection indicative of musical pieces.

Artists from De'VIA 2021 Exhibition

Paul M Scearce

I’m a Deaf digital artist and photographer. I was born in 1969 at Chattanooga, Tennessee. I became deaf after I got sick with meningitis at six months old. Currently, I’m the only one profoundly Deaf person in my whole Hearing family. Later my mother and I moved to Washington state. I went to school at Washington School for the Deaf (W.S.D.) ‘77 to ‘80 in Vancouver, WA. Then I transferred to Eckstein Middle School in Seattle, Washington. In my teenage years I started to drift away and became a rebel – using alcohol and hard drugs. Afterward I went to nearby Roosevelt High School; my grades started falling, I skipped classes frequently, and then I got kicked out. So I decided to go back to W.S.D. in ‘85 and got kicked out again. Then I had to attend Tyee High School in Sea-Tac and I ended up deciding to drop out. My life started to spiral down and I got kicked out of home; so I was unable to keep up with jobs and became homeless. I was a hardcore alcoholic. I drifted away from the local Deaf community and hung out and lived in with bad friends for a long time.

Then later in 2008, after applying for Section 8 housing, I finally got a place to live on my own. I started to cut my bad friends out of my life. Then I was able to quit doing hard drugs for good, but I was still a heavy alcoholic. After I got a desktop computer I started to learn Photoshop and started making sci-fi and fantasy digital artworks. Then, in 2010, I joined Facebook for first time and started to learn more about Deaf culture. I also joined in the De’VIA Central group on Facebook to learn more about De’VIA. What is De’VIA? Short for Deaf View/Image Art.

De’VIA represents Deaf artists and perceptions based on their Deaf experiences. I also watched chapter-by-chapter ASL vlogs based on Paddy Ladd’s book, “Understanding Deaf Culture: In Search of Deafhood” and other Deafhood-related things. I got inspired and started making De’VIA with Photoshop in 2012. Later in 2014 photography saved my life, literally. After I got my first DSLR camera, I taught myself light painting. What is light painting? It is a photographic technique of moving a light source while taking a long exposure photograph.  You can draw and create new imagery within your photograph using lighto photography.  Becoming a photographer and artist helped me a lot with my sobriety and conquering my fears. Finally, I got sober for good since August 8th 2014! Still breakin’ new records daily. This is my story.

Artists from De'VIA 2021 Exhibition

Shawn Richardson

Shawn Richardson was born in Tucson, Arizona, and grew up in Maryland most of his life. He has been passionately drawing since he was a little Deaf boy. He attended Maryland School for the Deaf (MSD) and graduated in 1988. Next, Shawn went to the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY, and earned an Associate of Applied Science in Applied Arts in 1992.

In the past, Shawn worked as a production associate with Preservation magazine at the National Trust for Historic Preservation in Washington, D.C. for many years

Currently, Shawn lives in Brenham, Texas, and has worked for various jobs including freelance graphic art. He specializes in cartoons and humorous illustrations ( & on the Macintosh and in traditional media including acrylic, pen, pencil, ink, and watercolor. On November 13, 2015, his artwork appeared in the “Unfolding the Soul of Black Deaf Expressions” with more than 100 works of art from more than 30 Black Deaf artists at RIT/NTID Dyer Arts Center in Rochester, New York. His most recent art project in 2021 was creating illustrations for a coloring & activity book named Black Deaf Lives Matter.

Artists from De'VIA 2021 Exhibition

Susan Dupor

Susan Dupor was born and raised in Wisconsin. She started her undergraduate studies at NTID/RIT in 1987 and later received her BFA at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. Eventually, she earned her MS from the Joint Education Specialist Program at NTID and the University of Rochester.

Her figurative and narrative paintings portray her life’s journey as a Deaf person. She has exhibited her paintings nationally in group and solo exhibits. She was awarded the Wisconsin Arts Board fellowship. Dupor was commissioned by the National Association of the Deaf to create a triptych painting depicting its history as the oldest Civil Rights organization in America dating back to 1880. She has also illustrated for a children’s book. In addition, she also created a large-scale triptych painting for the National Technical Institute for the Deaf to commemorate their program’s 50th anniversary.

Dupor continues to teach art at the Wisconsin School for the Deaf.

Artists from De'VIA 2021 Exhibition

Yiqiao Wang

Chinese-born Deaf artist and illustrator Yiqiao Wang came from Beijing to the United States to study at Gallaudet University and the Savannah College of Art and Design. She has created vibrantly murals at Gallaudet university’s Maguire Welcome Center and the first Starbucks signing store in Washington, D.C.

She works on most geometric shapes through her recent paper cutting medium and explores a red tone color from her vivid imagination and an inspiration from Chinese aesthetics. Here is a new work called, “An imagination of fish,” She wants to viewer feel her visual learning process between of ASL sign language, a word and an imagination into a form of art.

Artists from De'VIA 2021 Exhibition

Yusuf Ermez

I was born in Turkey in 1981. I'm Deaf from born. I've been painting since I was little. I graduated from Istanbul Commerce University in 2009. I am currently drawing illustrations about Sign Language. And I teach Turkish Sign Language to students studying at Istanbul Commerce University and Işık University.

Artists from De'VIA 2021 Exhibition

Zeniab Sadeghi Kaji

Zeinab Sadeghi kaji was born in 1985 in Iran and she is graduate of the Iranian College of art of Tehran; she also gained a master’s degree at Science and Research branch university in Tehran.

Hearing is one of the best senses of a man. Being deprived of the sense of hearing does not simply mean that the impaired person does not hear but also it results in missing the opportunity to experience too many useful and inspiring experiences of individual and social life.

However it is possible to create impressive artworks despite hearing problems. The hearing-impaired look for a language to express their feelings and words.
Finally, the five senses are not considered as criteria to evaluate art, but it is the artist's creativity which determines the value of art.