Nancy Rourke designed the painting and members of the De’VIA Curriculum Dvelopment Team who participated in the project signed their names in white paint. The painting, on white rolled canvas, was made beginning with handprints--using red, yellow, blue, and white paint. Like rock art, these handprints symbolize one of the earliest forms of visual art and storytelling as well as the Deaf cultural value of hands. In addition, this process of creation pays homage to the 2nd Wave of De’VIA mural which was created by a group of Deaf artists in Kansas in 2013. Ten motifs, using scratch art and masking art, emerged from the hand printed canvas when outlined and filled in with black paint.
The ten motifs and cultural references are explained below:
1. The 2015 De’VIA Curriculum Logo: De’VIA artist David Call designed the 2015 De’VIA Curriculum Development Project logo when the California School for the Deaf, Fremont hosted our summer retreat. At the center of the logo, reproduced in the mural, is the Nepali handshape representing Deaf--- a bent ring finger that indicates four senses. At the bottom of the handshape is a genie bottle symbolizing education. The paintbrush in the hand specifies art education. The eye in the center of the Nepali Deaf handshape further affirms Deaf people as visionary people and people of the hand/eye.
2. The Triangle and Black Foreground/background: The triangle and use of black as a background or foreground color is an homage to the 1989 De’VIA Think Tank visual manifesto as well as the 2nd Wave of De’VIA mural (2013). See image above.
3. The ASL Sign for EXPRESSION: The ASL sign for EXPRESSION refers to De’VIA as being a recognized genre of art that expresses the Deaf and DeafBlind experience.
4. The Flaming Piano: The flaming piano has the word De’VIA printed on it and hand flames rising from its top. The flaming piano as a motif alludes to Nyle DiMarco. Before winning the Dances with the Stars competition, a flaming piano appeared on stage during one of his final dance routines. DiMarco’s success as a dancer demonstrated to the public the insignificance of sound for Deaf people and the fact that sound is not something required for dancers. DiMarco, who is a Convo representative, has been a powerful advocate for Deaf children’s right to sign language.
5. The Deaf Sign Union Flag: French DeafBlind artist, Arnaud Balard, created the Deaf Sign Union flag symbolizing global Deafhood and Surdism.
6. The Paintbrush: The paintbrush alludes to Chuck Baird’s paintbrush is to honor him as he grew up in Kansas and attended the Kansas School for the Deaf, the hosts of the De’VIA Curriculum Development Team in 2016.
7. The Handwaves: The colorful handprints waving at the bottom of the mural also show the beginning handshape of the sign for SPECTRUM in the center. This refers to the Spectrum Deaf artists’ colony, which existed in Austin, Texas in the late 1970s. These handwaves also suggest a peacock, a symbol used for the Spectrum Deaf artists’ colony.
8. The Sunflowers. Inspired by Betty Miller’s Deaf Sunflowers painting, these sunflowers represent Kansas, as they are the Kansas state flower.
9. The Person Carrying a Load. This motif was borrowed from a work of art by a Canadian Deaf student about his experience of being oppressed as a Deaf First Nations individual. In this painting, it is one of a number of motifs of resistance (to oppression), which is a significant category of De’VIA artwork themes—an important aspect of the study of De’VIA as out lined in the De’VIA Curriculum.
10. The Person Holding a Self-portrait. This motif was borrowed from a Puerto Rican Deaf student whose self-portrait celebrated her identity and cultural pride. As one of several motifs in this mural illustrating affirmation, it is a primary category of De’VIA artwork.