Patchwork of a Deaf Family


This painting represents the current status of the world that the artist's family is living in.

The artist, who is a white Jewish Deaf woman, is married to an Asian Deaf man.

The hands are the major motif in this painting, and represent human rights, people's collective voices, and speaking out. For instance, one hand is in the shape of STAND in ASL; this represents taking a stand, and also standing together. Another major motif is the eyes, which represent not only visual access that Deaf people value, but also the fear in people's eyes of the current pandemic, racism, audism, and the unknown.

The final major motif is a fence, which represents the many barriers face by an artist's family and friends. The heart illustrates the different identities and intersectionality that exist in so many families, included the artist's family.


Ellen Mansfield


Patchwork of a Deaf Family




Oil on canvas


An abstract painting with a teal and green striped background and a green ground underneath. In the center is a distorted human figure with multiple heads, all different skin colors, overlapping each other with oversized eyes. Arm-like appendages extend from the overlapped heart-like torsos of the heads, extending in different directions. The hands at the end of the arms all show different handshapes. At the bottom of the torso is a belt made of colorful geometric shapes with three linked figure outlines under. On the bottom is a colorful picket fence with only the peaks showing.


Courtesy of Joshua Finkle


Ellen Mansfield, “Patchwork of a Deaf Family,” RIT/NTID Dyer Arts Center , accessed June 30, 2022,