Brenda Schertz

Originally from Brooklyn, New York Brenda Schertz received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Art Institute of Boston and completed her Master’s degree in Sign Language Education at Gallaudet University.

Currently Schertz is a senior lecturer teaching American Sign Language and Deaf studies at the Department of Linguistics at Cornell University. Schertz has taught covering the topics of ASL, Deaf studies and Interpreting at the University of Rochester, National Technical Institute for the Deaf and at the University of Southern Maine.

Schertz is passionate about the arts and coordinated USM’s annual Maine Deaf Film Festival for 12 years and the Deaf Rochester Film Festival in 2017. She curated her first art exhibit of Deaf artists’ work in 1993, and has been guest curator for several exhibits. She organized a year-long, seven-city National Touring Exhibit of Deaf Culture Art; and in 2018, curated Beyond Form: Non-Objective Art by Deaf Artists at NTID. She’s delighted to be working with the Dyer Arts Center again, with the recent exhibit, This is Not Normal: Deaf Modernist Sensibilities last spring. In the past she was a museum educator at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Ayisha Knight-Shaw

Ayisha Knight-Shaw is a California based Deaf multimedia artist, poet, educator and Reiki Master Teacher who is thrilled to be involved with this De'VIA exhibit as a co-curator with Brenda Schertz and the Dyer Arts Center.

The daughter of a White Jewish mother and Black Cherokee father, she was raised in an ethnically diverse community of poets, painters, sculptors, photographers and storytellers who taught her that creating and sharing art is as much a political act as a thing of beauty. 

As a Deaf photographer, she loves to focus on hands, eyes, facial expressions, and subjects not typically seen in mainstream media. Her interests in photography evolved over the years, shaped by her life as a Deaf woman on both coasts, as well as visits to other countries.

 Past solo and shared photo exhibits have been showcased at Very Special Arts Boston, Boston Public Library, Kentucky Deaf Expo, and Dorian’s in Provincetown, MA.

 As a poet, she has been seen at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Teatro Pregones, La Mama theater in NYC, Rhode Island School of Design, and Northampton Pride.  Television appearances include HBO Def Poetry Jam Season 4, Basic Black, and Urban Update.  Her 2004 “Hey Sistah, Welcome Home” led to a grant by the Cambridge Arts Council.   

Over the years, her passion for art, storytelling, theater, Reiki and education has been forming a tapestry that continues today.  More of her work is showcased at, and she can be reached at