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WATCH: Deaf Art and Culture on Display at RIT's Dyer Arts Center

Tabitha Jacques, director of the Dyer Arts Center, shows off a deaf artist's painting.
Tabitha Jacques, director of the Dyer Arts Center, shows off a deaf artist's painting.

The Joseph F. and Helen C. Dyer Arts Center at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) shares the visual works of deaf and hard of hearing artists with the public on a daily basis. The gallery showcases artwork created by current students, alumni, and artists who are nationally and internationally renowned. 

NTID is one of two federally funded universities for deaf and hard of hearing students in the United States. Staff members at the Dyer Arts Center have been collecting artwork since its doors first opened in 1968.

“People don’t understand why it’s so important to collect arts done by deaf people, and the mainstream museums don’t quite understand the specialty that is deaf art,” said Tabitha Jacques, director of the Dyer Arts Center, “They feel that it might not fit with their aesthetic overall.” 

Deaf artists bring their unique perceptions to life through paintings, with the intention of expressing the innate cultural or physical deaf experience.  Visuals may include deaf metaphors, and deaf insight of relationships with the environment, spirituality and everyday life.

“So, in their art we see a lot of aspects of the ears being smaller than normal, the eyes are very large, the mouth is very large,” said Jacques.

“You see hearing devices, old-time hearing aids, the emphasis on speech therapy, you see a lot of loneliness, and deaf art tends to be very colorful.”

The center also hosts art-related educational activities such as lectures and demonstrations, in order to bridge the gap between deaf people and those without hearing impairments.

“They just want to be a person in the world, who just so happens to be deaf,” Jacques said.

Gallery hours at the Dyer Arts Center are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays, and other times by appointment.

To watch this and other stories showcasing the arts and culture scene in Rochester, tune in to Arts InFocus on WXXI-TV. The show airs Friday nights at 8:30p.m., Saturdays at 6:30p.m., or visit onlineanytime.

This story is reported from WXXI’s Inclusion Desk

Sasha-Ann Simons joined the team at WXXI News in 2015 as a Multimedia Reporter/Producer. She tells stories about the innovation economy and technology in upstate New York and also does general assignment reporting. Sasha-Ann is the host of Arts InFocus, WXXI-TV's weekly arts and culture program. She is also a fill-in host and regular contributor to Need To Know.