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August 30, 2005

Deaf Art National Competition Set for Nashville - NEWS

From: League for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing - Tenn - Aug 30, 2005

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



Competition considered to be the only one of its kind in the United States

[Nashville, Tenn. – August 30, 2005] – Entries are now being accepted for the Tennessee's Second National Juried De'VIA (Deaf View/Image Art) Competition and Exhibit which is considered to be the only such fine arts competition in the United States.

De'VIA targets artists nationwide from within the Deaf community consisting of individuals who are Deaf, hard of hearing, or who have a strong connection with the Deaf Community such as family members or interpreters. The competition is presented by the League for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Nashville, Tenn. Tennessee Relay Service is the Event Sponsor. Vanderbilt University Medical Center's Department of Cultural Enrichment is the Exhibit Sponsor.

"A prominent art expert told us that we were pioneers in establishing this type of fine arts competition and event," said Les Hutchinson, Ph.D., League president/CEO, referring to Deborah Sonnenstrahl, Ph.D., a noted Deaf art historian and author. "The response to our debut event and the early response to this next competition demonstrate the potential for De'VIA to become a world-class event."

Eligible materials include two-dimensional and three-dimensional arts of all fine art media. These include paintings, drawings, printmaking, photography, sculpture, ceramics and mixed media. Cash prizes total $6,000. The winning pieces will be exhibited January through April 2006 at VUMC's Mezzanine Gallery.

Returning event co-chairs, Karin Kalodimos and Cynthia Weitzel, anticipate an overwhelming response based on the interest and participation for last year's inaugural event.

"We received entries from all across the country," noted Kalodimos, who is an interpreter for the Deaf. "Participating artists were very pleased to have this type of event to show their work as well as see other Deaf artists' work. Art enthusiasts locally were treated to a one-of-a-kind experience found nowhere else."

The De'VIA genre has been in existence for quite some time but was not formally recognized or defined until recent years when a group of Deaf artists and art historians together created the 'De'VIA Manifesto' in May 1989, according to Weitzel who is a Deaf artist and local business person.

"The manifesto goes into great detail to describe the characteristics and formal elements commonly seen within Deaf View/Image Art," she said. "Its intention is to express the innate cultural or physical Deaf life experience. Yet, it can also be said that De'VIA is comparable to the body of works created by a variety of minority artists."

Weitzel's first exposure to De'VIA was 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."

Kalodimos believes the event does more than showcase the talents of the winning artists and the minority art genre of De'VIA.

"Art has the power to enlighten and inspire by expressing the feelings and thoughts of a culture to provide those outside a glimpse within," she said. "Art allows us the chance to see and feel the struggles and hopes, the pain and beauty that is shaped and experienced daily; in its language and art, and within its community. De'VIA is that glimpse."

The jury panel includes:
* Maurice Blik, International Deaf Artist, London, England;
* Nicole Pietrantoni, Program Director, Tennessee Arts Commission; and
* Deborah Sonnenstrahl, Ph.D., Deaf Art Historian, Author, and Gallaudet University Professor Emeritus.

"Last year's event confirmed to us that De'VIA fostered a greater understanding of the lives of Deaf and Hard of Hearing people," said Weitzel. "The incredible opportunity we have this time to exhibit at VUMC's Mezzanine will ensure that this national exhibit will have an impact on thousands of individuals."

Hutchinson noted the diverse creative talent represented in the exhibit. In fact, the first place winning painting in the Professional Division, I Can Barely Hear You, by Rhiannon Gurley, in on permanent display at the League.

"The League is proud to have this unique opportunity to help showcase the De'VIA exhibit here in Nashville, a city known world-wide for its talented and creative culture," he added.

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 deadline for slide entries is October 14, 2005. For complete information about De'VIA including entry forms, visit, email at, or call 615-248-8828 (voice/TTY).