GUIDELINES ON HOW TO SUPPORT 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 https://deviacurr.wordpress.com/). 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.