De’VIA Motifs (D-I)

Dandelion

Meaning: Dandelions symbolize nature, and natural-growing things that are sometimes viewed by the majority/dominant culture as undesirable. Dandelions refer to growth and future in the face of this oppression. [Based on an ASL poem by Clayton Valli] (see also the related motif of flower)

Category: in general, works with this motif are categorized as liberation works

Examples: Les signes volent au gré du vent by Arnaud Balard and DEAF-GAIN: self-portrait by Ellen Mansfield, (see also De’VIA [Feb. 2015] Challenge Day 8 and Nancy Rourke’s Dandelions[9])

Explanation: motif explained by Michelle Mansfield-Hom

 

 

 

 

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Deaf Union Flag

Meaning: The Deaf Union Flag (created by Arnaud Balard) represents Deaf unity—the unity of signing peoples as well as the globalization of  the Deaf and Deaf-Blind experience.

Category: in general, works with this motif are categorized as affirmation works

Examples: Solidarity by Nancy Rourke and V ictory by Patti Durr (see also 2ND Wave of De’VIA Mural and Coming Home Mural by various artists.[10])

Explanation: motif explained by Tiffany Hoglind

 

 

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DNA

Meaning: DNA refers to the natural genes of Deaf people and is usually represented by a type of twisting “ladder” of a molecule. [NOTE: DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid which is genetic information carried by cells].

Category: in general, works with this motif are categorized as resistance works

Examples: Deaf History: Deaf Vineyarders by Nancy Rourke.

Explanation: motif explained by Christine Parrotte

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Doctor

Meaning: Doctors and audiologists represent the medical view of being Deaf as ‘needing to be fixed.’ Doctors are authority figures in the dominant culture who have the power to influence the lives of Deaf people and who financially benefit from working to ‘cure’ Deaf people.

Category: : in general, works with this motif are categorized as resistance works

Examples: Mr. Joker Doctor loves the cochlear implants by Takiyah Harris and Living Inside by Ellen Mansfield. (Also see David Call’s PLAGUE DOCTOR [11] )

Explanation: motif explained by Hinda Kasher

 

 

 

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Door

Meaning: Doors symbolize a seeking and a welcoming. They are the beginnings of a Deafhood journey and entryways into the Deaf world.   At times, they can represent a lack of opportunity or access to the dominant culture.

Category: in general, works with this motif are categorized as affirmation works

Examples: HeartBroken n Breakthrough GateWay to the Deaf Community by Ellen Mansfield and The Annex by Patti Durr. (also see De’VIA [Feb. 2015] Challenge, Day 26).

Explanation: motif explained by Susan Dupor

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Ears

Meaning: Ears represent the dominant Hearing culture, hearing/sound and auditory training methods. Hearing people tend to focus on the ears of Deaf people as something broken and in need of fixing. (related motifs: hearing aids, mouths)

Category: in general, works with this motif are categorized as resistance works

Examples: Greedy Ear by Laurie Rose Monahan and Classroom: Access Denied by Hinda Kasher (also see Chuck Baird’s “Mechanical Ear”[12] and Takiyah Harris’ “The Ear Butterfly feels peaceful after the coffee with eye pushed other coffee with the sound devices away[13]

Explanation: motif explained by Peggy Gelarde

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Eyes

Meaning: Eyes are a strong motif in many De’VIA works as they also represent a culturalvalue of Deaf people. Eyes represent Deaf people as visual beings and Deaf people as living in a visual world (sometimes also symbolized by Eyeth).

Category: in general, works with this motif are categorized as affirmation works

Examples: Visualizing by Nancy Rourke and The Birds of Eyeth by David Call (also see De’VIA [Feb. 2015] Challenge, Day 16)

Explanation: motif explained by Christine Parrotte

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Eyeth

Meaning: Artworks with the Eyeth motif are based on the Deaf Cultural folktale about the mythical planet where Deaf and people of the EYE (rather than the EAR, earth) are the majority. Thus, Eyeth represents a paradise and visual world where Deaf people are not ‘aliens.’

Category: in general, works with this motif are categorized as affirmation works

Examples: Between Two Worlds by Warren Miller and Deaf Alien Visitors by Paul Scearce.

Explanation: motif explained by Peggy Gelaude

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Feather

Meaning: Feathers represent Deaf people’s experiences with speech therapy and thereby shows parroting, disempowerment and audism.

Category: in general, works with this motif are categorized as resistance works

Examples: Speech Therapy by Tormentor by Ellen Mansfield and Can You Hear the Feather? By Kyle Hoffer (also see De’VIA Challenge, Day 3)

Explanation: motif explained by Scotty Zwicker

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Fence

Meaning: Fences communicate restrictions, barriers or boundaries.  They can also refer to areas to be protected and guarded.

Category: in general, works with this motif are categorized as resistance works

Examples: The Dying Hands by David Call  and Flight with Natural Sign by Ellen Mansfield. (also see De’VIA [Feb. 2016] Challenge, Day 23)

Explanation: motif explained by Ellen Mansfield

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Flower

Meaning: Flowers refer to nature, growing/blossoming, new life, Deafhood, sweet fragrance/beauty, hope, and remembrance. (See also the related motif of Dandelion)

Category: in general, works with this motif are categorized as affirmation works

Examples: Handflowers by Nancy Rourke and EyeSunFlowers by Brenda Pond. (also see De’VIA [Feb. 2015] Challenge, Day 8)

Explanation: motif explained by Bonnie Arnold

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Hammer/Sledgehammer

Meaning: This motif is used to show resisting or smashing oppression of Deaf people. It can also represent the ‘fixing’ of Deaf people.

Category: in general, works with this motif are categorized as resistance works

Examples: The Hear Doctor’s Cure-All Tool Box by Bethaney Hall.

Explanation: motif explained by Tullos Horn

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Hands/Hands Holding/Broken or Chopped Hands

Hands Meaning: Hands are a strong motif in many De’VIA works as they also represent a cultural value of Deaf people. In general, hands are valued/ cherished and to signing/ASL.

Category: in general, works with this motif are categorized as affirmation works (but see below)

Examples: Hands Unity by Takiyah Harris and Evolution of ASL by Betty G. Miller[14]. (also see De’VIA [Feb. 2015] Challenge, Day 4)

Explanation: Hands motif explained by Hinda Kasher

*-Hands Holding Meaning: Hands holding symbolize solidarity and partnership.  It represents security, comfort, and support.

Category: in general, works with this motif are categorized as affirmation works

Examples: see De’VIA [Feb. 2015] Challenge, Day 22 and Two De’VIA Mothers by David Call [15]

Broken Hands Meaning:  Broken hands tend to show that ASL banned or prohibited. Language and communication is denied to Deaf people. It also can refer to breaking of rules.

Category: in general, works with this motif are categorized as resistance works

Examples: Ameslan Prohibited by Betty G. Miller [16]and Milan 1880 on the Table by Nancy Rourke. (also see De’VIA [Feb. 2015] Challenge, Day 10 and Strange Fruit by Warren Miller[17])

Explanation: Broken Hands motif explained by Michelle Mansfield-Hom

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Hearing Aid

Meaning: Hearing Aids can be symbols of a medicalization of Deaf Identity, desire to ‘fix’ Deaf people, systematic audism as well as representing an overdependence on technology.  Sometimes used as symbols of affirmation and markers of a Deaf identity (of those who are socialized with audition).

Category: works with this motif can be both affirmation and resistance, but tend to be in the resistance category.

ExamplesDeaf American by Susan Dupor; Façade or Interview by Warren Miller; Crucifixion by Betty G. Miller.  See also De’VIA [Feb. 2017] Challenge, Day 7

Explanation: motif explained by Amy Cohen Efron

 

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Heart

Meaning: A heart can represent the Deaf soul and Deaf life.  It also represents Deaf life, Deaf center and unity.  Feelings of  love, preciousness, and truth are communicated by hearts

Category: in general, works with this motif are categorized as affirmation works.

Examples: Hand Heart Tree by Nancy Rourke; Hand and Heart by Betty G. Miller; I know why the caged…by Patti Durr.

Explanation: motif explained by Megan-Claire Burgess

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Hook/Fish Hook

Meaning: Hooks refer to being painfully ‘caught’ in an oppressed/colonialized situation. It communicates being stuck and unable to escape from oralism/audism and other ways Deaf people experience brute abuse.

Category: in general, works with this motif are categorized as resistance works

Examples: see De’VIA [Feb. 2015] Challenge, Day 17

Explanation: motif explained by Tullos Horn

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Hourglass

Meaning: In De’VIA artworks, hourglasses tend to symbolize a sense of urgency and feeling that Deaf people, language, and culture are endangered and cultural genocide in imminent.

Category: in general, works with this motif are categorized as resistance works

ExamplesRunning Out of Time by David Call. Also see more examples under DAY 17 from the De’VIA 29 Days [Feb. 2016] Challenge, Day 17.

Explanation: motif explained by Amy Cohen Efron

 

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Interpreter

Meaning: Interpreters often represent access to communication between Deaf and Hearing people. As a motif, it can also refer to when interpreters act as barriers and who are untrustworthy and controlling.

Category: in general, works with this motif are categorized as affirmation works

Examples: Interpreter by Betty G. Miller and Invisible Interpreter by Nancy Rourke

Explanation: motif explained by Hinda Kasher

Deaf View/Image Art for schools

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