See the drop down menu for different ARtivism, exhibits/events, workshops, creative endeavors.


ARTists have long served the role of being change agents.

“De’VIA is created when the artist intends to express their Deaf experience through visual art.~ De’VIA Manifesto (1989)

Surdism is a collective international movement which carries a positive, constructive, militant and inclusive philosophy that denounces prejudices like audism while stimulating creativity to express Deafhood via theatre, literature, cinema and visual arts. ~ Surdism Manifesto (2009)

ARTivism is when artists use their works to foster social justice.  ART + Activism = ARTivism
“The artivist (artist +activist) uses her artistic talents to fight and struggle against injustice and oppression—by any medium necessary. The artivist merges commitment to freedom and justice with the pen, the lens, the brush, the voice, the body, and the imagination. The artivist knows that to make an observation is to have an obligation.”
~ M.K. Asante from It’s BIgger Than HipHop
Many artists especially those from underrepresented groups having engaged in ARTivism.
See an article on Jacob Lawrence and Jean-Micheal Basquiat as social activists via their art creating and place making.
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See also Art of Engagement: Visual Art in California and Beyond by Paul Selz
De^ARTivism is a term coined by Ellen Mansfield that takes place when De’VIA Surdists use art to bring light to hidden and taboo topics within our Deaf-world and also utilize art for direct peaceful confrontation against audism and other “isms” as well was celebrating Deafhood.

nancy lies ag b

see more #lies AGBelltoldmyparents at

“I capture today’s society that needed attention because it is long overdue.”~ Nancy Rourke

Nancy Rourke holding up painting about the #liesagbelltold my parents


ellen lies agb

Ellen Mansfield holding up magazine with herself as a young child in speech therapy and a big Ear with her writing on it.



asl pride parade

De^ARTivists on the ground  – 1st ASL & Deaf Pride Parade

david e ag b banner

David Ennis protest art



De^ARTivism is urgently needed as many individuals and organizations are actively at work to reduce bio-diversity and language diversity and since the 2nd wave of oralism is here and many Deaf people suffer from language deprivation and disempowerment.

“When I lecture to my students (sorry a bit of BSL almost slipped out there) in class, I always tell them, “You have ten years to build a mountain. Build it tall before the waves of cochlear implants, Oralism, and mainstreaming crash upon us. If you take your time and are busy partying not building up the mountain, then the waves will wash away the little we have amassed. However, if you B U I L D a political discourse, through A-R-T and creative expression, you will be building an insurmountable mountaintop which the waves of oppression will not be able to dismantle. We will survive.” ~ Dr. Paddy Ladd 
“We can see that art making was a fundamental human impulse and continues to be one, despite the fragmentation in our current civilization. When it [art] becomes a truth teller, a healer, a form of resistance and a promoter of dialogue, it is often shut down and called dangerous.”
Beverly Naidus, 2008

“I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” ~ Albert Einstein

“Art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it.” ~Bertolt Brecht

“Artists are here to disturb the peace.” ~ James Baldwin

“I think much of the appreciation of literature relates to culture. People who are able to understand the value of Deaf people and our experiences, the value of our stories and our literature, as well as how our experiences are deeply rooted in our culture will be able to have a greater appreciation of our literature.” ~ M.J. Bienvenu, 2008

One thought on “ACTIONS

  1. Hello! We are from the New York Deaf Theatre currently preparing to kick off a gala fundraiser to celebrate our 40th anniversary. We would love to have your support from your community artists by a donation of one of their artworks to our silent auction as a fantastic contribution to help us achieve that goal! Kindly let us know if you would like further information about our theatre and our fundraiser. -NYDT fundraising team


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