Life and Legacy

The following are a collection of stories and images from Guy Wonder's Life. This is in no way a comprehensive list of the many accomplisments and contributions he provided to his communities. If you would like to contribute your own memory, please see the Continue the Story portion of the site. 

1970 - NTID Drama Club 

Guy Wonder's journey in theater started at NTID in the 1970s, he would continue to be a part of theater throughout the rest of his life in every place he lived. Most notably he was a founder of the New York Theater for the Deaf and the Deaf Visual Performing Artists in San Francisco. He was also known for throwing and attending the most elaborate costume parties as part of his active social life.  

1989 - De'VIA Manifesto 

In the late 1960s and 1970s–in response to the growing recognition of Deaf identity and culture–a movement began to coalesce among Deaf artists exploring imagery that explicitly focused on Deaf experiences. Among the early images to emerge was Betty G. Miller’s 1972 Ameslan Prohibited, a soon-to-become iconic image of two handcuffed hands with broken fingertips. "Ameslan" refers to an abbreviation of American Sign Language and the image to the common practice of punishing Deaf children for signing in school.

Interest among Deaf artists to create work about their experiences grew and in 1989 a group of eight Deaf artists and a Deaf art historian proclaimed the emergence of a new genre of art for which they issued a manifesto and invented a name, De’VIA—Deaf Veiw/Image Art. Communicating Deaf experiences and culture provided the content for this movement, while using contrasting colors and focusing particularly on hands and eyes defined it visually.

1996 - Oakland Musuem 

Guy was passionate about educating others about art, he wanted everyone he met to be as inspired by art as he was. One way he did this was giving tours in ASL. He was a docent at many notable musuems including the Metropolian Museum of Art in NYC and the Oakland Museum. 

2008 - Rochester School for the Deaf Artist-in-Residence 

Guy Wonder was the Rochester School for the Deaf (RSD) Artist-in-Residence during the Spring of 2008. The Deaf Artist in Residence program was an opportunity for Guy Wonder to share his artistic talents and knowledge as well as his deep understanding of Deaf culture with RSD students. The artwork "RSD from A to Z" was a collaborative project bewteen Guy Wonder and the students from RSD's Early Childhood Center throgh High School programs. 

Each square tells a story about RSD, the Deaf Community, the Rochester, NY area, or elements of Deaf Culture. Each letter represents an ASL handshape or fingerspelled alphabet letter. 

2013 - Washington School for the Deaf Artist-in-Residency 

In the spring of 2013, WSD had the fortune of having WSD alumnus (Class of ‘66) and world-famous De’VIA artist Guy Wonder come to the campus to work with our students in creating artwork to be displayed in the newly renovated Lloyd Auditorium. Mr. Wonder was one of the 8 artists that met in 1989 during Deaf Way in 1989 at Gallaudet University and was responsible for bringing De’VIA into existence. In addition to creating a piece of art to be displayed in the auditorium, Mr. Wonder had plans for something that was meaningful and relevant to our community here at WSD. He envisioned students creating their own De’VIA artwork to be displayed proudly in the auditorium.

During the week that Mr. Wonder was here, he spent countless hours working with our students, teaching them about De’VIA and providing insight on how they can create their own artwork. At the end of the week, the students had created a large amount of beautiful, colorful paintings that would make any school proud. A week before the opening of the Lloyd Auditorium during the Deaf Awareness Week in September, Mr. Wonder returned to our campus to help students finish up their artwork. Again, his passion for working with students and his love of De’VIA shone through as he worked long hours, often late into the night. In the end, hundreds of people showed up at the Lloyd Auditorium for the grand re-opening and were treated to some eye candy as they entered the auditorium. Students who participated with creating the artwork were able to proudly showcase their work and explain to visitors how they created them. As visitors enter the auditorium from either the north or south foyer, they are presented with beautiful artwork arranged in a variety of themes (the Pacific Northwest, Love, Animals, Nature, Abstraction), and the neatest part is they are all related to Deaf Culture (De’VIA). During the grand re-opening, family members, friends and community members were undoubtedly beyond impressed at the beauty that adorned the walls of the foyers, (all student creations), as well as Guy Wonder’s special project: an arrangement of wooden blocks with beautiful, colorful waving hands with a contrasting black background. This special project was Mr. Wonder’s gift to the WSD Community and can be seen on the north wall of the auditorium just above the accessibility ramp. The entire WSD community owes Mr. Wonder a huge debt of gratitude for giving up so much of his time and energy to help us give our newly renovated auditorium something that generations of Deaf people will be able to enjoy for years to come. On a personal note, it has been a wonderful experience for me to have the opportunity to work with world renowned De’VIA artist, Mr. Guy Wonder. I enjoyed hearing many stories from when he was a student here at WSD. His stories have helped me appreciate this school even more, because of the realization that this campus has been a special home to so many Deaf people over the years. There have been so many lives positively impacted by WSD, and it is such a great feeling for me to have that shared experience with an artist I appreciate tremendously. Thank you very much, Mr. Guy Wonder, for bringing so much to the WSD community. It is an honor to call you a friend of WSD, as well as a personal friend of mine.

Billy Miles, WSD Art Teacher, WSD Class of 1995