Supporting Deaf Artists


Surdists United (SU) is a non-profit 501c3 entity. Our work has included promoting exhibits by Deaf artists, hosting working retreats for art educators from Deaf schools and programs, and subsequently creating a national K-12 Curriculum for Deaf students (see This work has been made possible by the generosity of select Deaf schools and organizations that believe in investing in future De’VIA artists.

We are passionate about educating, creating, and advocating for art by Deaf artists and artwork about the Deaf experience—Deaf View/Image Art, De’VIA. We would like to emphasize the importance of fostering an appreciation for Deaf artists and their works. Fortunately, Deaf schools and Deaf-related organizations have become more aware that public artworks should express the Deaf experience and be created by Deaf people, members of the culture. A number of Deaf schools have been hiring De’VIA artists in residence to work with their students to create murals and other projects. This is an empowering experience for the students, the school community, as well as the national Deaf community. At present, there are a multitude of skilled Deaf artists who are enthusiastic for such projects.

One of our missions is to advocate for artists and provide consultation. Recently, there has been increasing numbers of requests for De’VIA artists to contribute artworks to fundraisers of various organizations and increased interest in exhibiting the works of De’VIA artists. We are thrilled that individuals, schools, and organizations have recognized the power of art for historical purposes and expressing pride in our people and our community. However, there are few guidelines for the appropriate way in which to ensure that both the artists and the patrons benefit from this process.

Over the years many Deaf artists have been extremely generous with sharing their works which are solicited for fundraising. Often, these artists are not given ANY percentage of the auction profits. Unfortunately, this does not honor nor show respect for the artists’ talents. We are certain no one wishes to demonstrate a willingness to exploit Deaf artists, particularly as members of our own cultural group. By providing guidelines we can make sure that Deaf organizations and schools provide Deaf artists with opportunities to celebrate their gifts; thereby, empowering us all.

Guidelines we suggest for Deaf schools and organizations regarding fundraising and opportunities:
For fundraising: Ask Deaf artists to donate their artworks for fundraising with the understanding

that there will be an agreement of a 50/50 profit percentage; with half going to the artist and half to the organization/school. Shipping of the artwork(s) should be covered by the hosting school/organization. If you need assistance with creating guidelines and/or soliciting artworks for fundraising, please contact us as we have a database of De’VIA artists plus can promote your call for artworks.

For educational experiences about De’VIA/Surdism: if you wish to provide your school, organization or community with more information about the major artworks, history, themes and motifs related to De’VIA feel free to contact us.

For Artists in Residence experiences: If you wish to host an artist in residence to work on a project as part of a permanent collection (i.e. a mural) and/or to provide instruction and activities with students, we can assist with guidelines for length of time, budgeting, and list of experienced individuals who have been De’VIA artists in residence.

For ideas with how your school/organization can create opportunities for collective projects of artistic expression, let us know and we can assist you.

Whenever your school/organization buys or commissions artwork, please remember to invest in Deaf artists. For those of you who have invested in Deaf artists and De’VIA, we thank you and hope you will continue to incorporate artistic expression in your programs. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or concerns.

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