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October 8, 2004

Art by Deaf artists featured at De'VIA exhibit - NEWS

From: League for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing - Oct 8, 2004

League for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing
415 Fourth Avenue South * Nashville, Tennessee 37201

For more information:
Sharon Limpus
615-599-0080 (office) or 615-554-9938 (cell)



National winners of De'VIA (Deaf View/Image Art), presentation by Deaf author build awareness about the Deaf, Hard of Hearing culture

[Nashville, Tenn. – October 8, 2004] – Winning fine art from Tennessee's First National Juried De'VIA (Deaf View/Image Art) Competition will make its debut at a one-night only exhibit and reception at The Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Thurs., Oct. 21, 2004, beginning at 5:30 p.m.

De'VIA features artists nationwide who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing or have a strong connection with the Deaf Community such as family members or interpreters, according to Cynthia Weitzel, co-chair. The genre represents Deaf artists and perceptions based on their Deaf experiences.

The De'VIA exhibit is presented by MCI Tennessee Relay Services and supported by the League for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. The League for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing is the sole provider of qualified, comprehensive services to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in a 16-county Middle Tennessee region. The jury panel included professors of art from Austin Peay State University.

"De'VIA can be identified by formal elements such as Deaf artists' possible tendency to use contrasting colors and values, intense colors, and contrasting textures," said Weitzel, citing the De'VIA Manifesto created by a group of Deaf professional artists and art historians at the Deaf Way international festival 1989. "It may also most often include a centralized focus with exaggeration or emphasis on facial features, especially the eyes, mouths, ears and hands."

The event will feature an opening reception and art viewing from 5:30-6:30 p.m. and a presentation by Dr. Deborah Meranski-Sonnenstrahl, author, Deaf Artists in America: Colonial to Contemporary from 6:30-8 p.m.

Meranski-Sonnenstrahl, who is Deaf, is an art historian and a long-time advocate of Deaf artists. She earned a bachelor's degree in art from Gallaudet University, Washington, D.C., the only liberal arts university in the world established for people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. Meranski-Sonnenstrahl received a master's degree in art history from the Catholic University of America, and a Ph.D. in the joint fields of museum studies and Deaf education from New York University.

She is often credited with bringing Deaf artists into the mainstream by showcasing their unique talents. Through her teaching, lively presentations and workshops, people have gained both an appreciation of art history and an understanding of how Deaf artists have influenced Deaf culture. In addition, Meranski-Sonnenstrahl was instrumental in placing Deaf interns in the museum workforce nationwide.

Weitzel, a Deaf businesswoman and artist who lives in Franklin, had her first exposure to De'VIA in 1989 while attending the first Deaf Way international festival in Washington, D.C.

"I still remember to this day how it was a life-altering event for me as a Deaf person who knew little about the art world or the existence of work by Deaf artists," she said. "I stopped dead in my tracks and kept thinking to myself, 'That's exactly how I feel, but could never articulate into words!' It was at that moment that I realized how powerful an effect art could have in creating dialogue and better understanding of ourselves and each other."

Event co-chair Karin Kalodimos, a sign language interpreter, believes this event will do more than showcase the talents of the winning artists and the minority art genre of De'VIA.

"It will foster a greater understanding of the lives of Deaf and Hard of Hearing people," she noted. "The Deaf culture and community are often personal for those within. Yet, art has the power to enlighten and inspire by expressing the feelings and thoughts of a culture to those outside."

Other sponsors include "Canvas Level" sponsors Tennessee Library Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Beyond The Box Productions, Inc.; "Palette Level" sponsors Critical Impressions; Gallaudet University Regional Center – SE; Gaylord Entertainment, Inc.; Gibson Guitar Corporation; Weitzel Roofing Co., LLC; and "Paint Level" sponsors DR Productions; Fido; Harris Communications, Hilton Suites Hotel – Nashville; Ingram Book Company; and Regal Entertainment.

"There is an incredible amount of creative talent represented by individuals who are in the Deaf culture or who have lived their lives with significant hearing loss," said Les Hutchinson, Ph.D., League president and CEO. "We at the League are very excited to have this opportunity to help showcase this unique talent here in Nashville, a city known world-wide for its talented and creative culture."

Tickets for the De'VIA opening reception and exhibit must be purchased in advance by contacting the League at 615-248-8828 (voice/TTY), by email at, or in person at 415 Fourth Avenue South. Tickets are $40 per single ticket or $70 for a pair. No tickets can be sold at the door.