De’VIA Timeline

Timeline from the HeART of Deaf Culture: Literary and Artistic Expressions of Deafhood by K. Christie and P. Durr (from the Visual Art section)

Visual Art TL 1

Early Years:

NOTE: prior to the 1960s Deaf people did create works about the Deaf experience but their was no specific name given to this genre and no collective organizing of artists to explore and promote this expression.

In the late 1960s a small group of Deaf art students at Gallaudet formed the Deaf Art Movement (DAM) to explore creating works that involved sign language and/or Deaf culture.  (See Ann Silver’s book for more information)

In 1972 – Dr. Betty G. Miller had a solo show entitled “The Silent World” at Gallaudet University.  This is the first known exhibit of works entirely about the Deaf experience.  The exhibit featured many resistance pieces, most notably “Ameslan Prohibited,” which brought the truth out about the abuses of audism and oralism and shown a light on the joys of being Deaf.

In the mid 1970s Spectrum: Focus on Deaf Artists was formed.  This was a Deaf artists colony in Austin, Texas which included ASL and English literature, dance and visual art.  (See Spectrum video and summary under History)

visual art timeline 2Illustration of the sign for Spectrum (Deaf Artists colony)

From 1985-1995 Deaf Artists of America (DAA) ran – it had a gallery space from 1988 – 1992, hosted numerous exhibits of works by Deaf artists and published a newsletter.  In 1987 DAA hosted a conference at NTID where there was a discussion about art specific to the Deaf experience.

May 25th to May 28th, 1989 a 4-day workshop / think tank was held at Gallaudet, where 9 Deaf artists gathered to create the Deaf View/Image Art De’VIA manifesto, mural and movement (see De’VIA Think Tank for video and summary)

July 9-14, 1989 Deaf Way I took place – artworks by Deaf artists from around the world were exhibited and the Deaf View/Image Art De’VIA manifesto was unveiled and presented

tl 3

Every two years from 1993-1999 the Deaf Studies conferences would have an exhibit of De’VIA artworks and in 1999-2000 there was a traveling De’VIA exhibit entitled “Elements of a Culture: Visions by Deaf Artists” (see  to see video interviews about the exhibits – subscribe to the HeART of Deaf Culture

In 1998 the International Archives of Deaf Artists (IADA) website was open at RIT.

tl 4

In 2002 the book Deaf Artists in America: Colonial to Contemporary was published and includes information on De’VIA and several De’VIA artists as well as many non-De’VIA artists.

Deaf Way II also took place in 2002 in Washington, DC and featured many international Deaf artists and had a panel discussion on Deaf View/Image Art.

In 2005 the International Archives of Deaf Artists was merged into the Deaf Art / Deaf Artists website. (see

In the two decades since De’VIA was formed there have been numerous art festivals, conferences, publications, and exhibits covering De’VIA.

During the 20th anniversary of De’VIA, in 2009 the Surdism Manifesto was written without any knowledge of Deaf View/Image Art.  The manifesto are similar in that they focus expression of the Deaf experience.  The Surdism Manifesto expands De’VIA from just visual art to including other genres such as filmmaking, literature (signed and written) and theatrical works about the Deaf experience. The Surdism Manifesto also utilizes terms such as audism and Deafhood and emphasizes the political nature and importance of art about the Deaf experiences and calls for ARTivism. (see Surdism Manifesto)

There have been numerous events, festivals, booths, exhibits, and retreats honoring and expanding De’VIA in recent years.  Around the same time that the Surdism Manifesto was created, US De’VIA artists began to take their works from walls into the street and engage in more and more peaceful activism via artistic expression and thus we see the 2nd wave of De’VIA ie Surdism begin and take roots and wings.

The 25th anniversary of De’VIA saw many exhibits honoring its long history as well as an increase in De’VIA ARTivism and a celebration of our collective conscious.

A listing of key events ushering in the 2nd Wave of De’VIA & ARTivism
*2012 – Kentucky Deafest – meeting of De’VIA artists discuss the future of De’VIA. Retreats and a guild were discussed
*2012 – De’VIA Central Facebook page was established and administered by Nancy Rourke and functions as a virtual De’VIA artists colony and thinktank
*2012 – small artists and activist retreat in colorado springs – discussion of a Parade and on the ground activism happened as well as a solidarity fist De’VIA banner made. Viva Veditz cemetery ceremony was powerful & guiding
*2013 – AFA’s 1st ASL & Deaf Pride parade – Arnaud Balard’s Deaf Union flag premiers in the US.

De'VIA Totem (2013) made by a group of artists at the Olathe, Kansas De'VIA retreat
De’VIA Totem (2013) made by a group of artists at the Olathe, Kansas De’VIA retreat

*2013 – Kansas De’VIA Retreat and DCC Chuck Baird Gala – and the 2nd wave of De’VIA was examined – Mural with Handstand center was made to honor the 1989 De’VIA that is missing and to examine where De’VIA has been and where it is going.  Totem was also created.  PDF of 2nd Wave of De’VIA PP devia-retreat-2013-for-webpdf(3)
Part 1 video of presentation
Part 2 video of presentation
*2013 – Group of De’VIA artists went to Russia to share about De’VIA at an international exhibit of art by Deaf artists.
*2013 AFA protests the Bermuda Triangle of Oralism in LA (JTC, Advanced Bionics, House Ear Institute during the AG Bell conference)
*2014 Aspen Deaf View Art retreat (created mural and mobiles)
*2014 25th anniversary of De’VIA – numerous exhibits and events celebrating (including challenges) the anniversary.
*2014 NTID hosts 3rd Deaf Mute Banquet honoring De’VIA and has the VIVA De’VIA exhibit and Chain of Remembrance tribute as well as Arnaud Balard as Keynote – explaining the 5th anniversary of Surdism
*2014 Betty G. Miller Memorial Service at the Washburn Art building at Galladuet
*2015 Feb 28 day De’VIA motifs challenge
*2015 AFA 2nd ASL & Deaf Pride parade
there are alot more events here and there but it seems things are manifesting themselves – fastly and surely.
2016 Black Deaf Artists exhibit at Dyer Arts Center
2016 De’VIA Elders Reunion in Chicago
2016 To Deafhood with Love exhibit and Rochester Deaf Awareness Week in Rochester, NY

Viva De’VIA, Surdism and ARTivism

3 thoughts on “De’VIA Timeline

  1. “You’ve come along way baby”, deaf culture is finally catching up with the rest of the world!due to hard work and perseverance by the deaf culture themselves!😊😍

    Liked by 1 person

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