Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The meaning of the ASL signs

I have been asked by a number of people if I could list the feelings that the ASL hand signs are communicating. The sign in the middle of the pupil means isolation. Starting directly above this sign with the two hands outstretched and going clockwise around the iris are the feelings of

1. being scared when isolated

2. how oppressed they feel if isolated

3. that friendships can be built when people understand them

4. how signing helps them to carry on

5. how barriers can be broken down

6. how it provides a way they can communicate and ease frustration

7. how it provides a way to express their feelings

8. how it helps to avoid confusion

and lastly

9. how they can express their love for others close to them

I am now painting in the hands themselves so that they become almost part of the iris. For me this feels symbolic because for people who use sign language the importance of their eyes and hands are so interlinked and they use them 'as one'. Understanding is not possible without both.

Don't forget to click on the picture in the previous post to see the progress that has been made in the picture as a whole so far.

Friday, February 22, 2008

An Exciting Project

I am really enjoying developing the latest picture in my 'Talking Hands' series of art and wanted to share my progress with you.

Update March 1 The painting is finished. Click on the picture above to watch the stages in it's development.

As a teacher of the Deaf I am very aware of how communication is the key not only to learning, but to everything we experience in life. For the development of this piece I am working closely with a few of my colleagues and also three of the teenage students who are deaf. To this group of students sign language is an essential addition to their use of hearing aids and FM equipment.

I asked them what signing meant to them and how they felt in situations when they did not have an interpretor. The sign that encapsulated how they felt in situations like this was the ASL sign for isolation. I also asked them to express in sign how having ASL made such a huge difference to them. They gave me the signs for love, friendship, communication, feelings, and the ability to carry on. They also expressed how people understanding and using sign helped them to feel less confused, oppressed, scared and how it helped to break down barriers. One student also expressed how her eyes were also so important to her. She described how her mother always told her that her eyes were so beautifully big and round because she was using them to take in so much information. I wanted to incorporate this into the picture too.

I have used the iris and pupil of the eye as a basis for my picture. In the central pupil section I have placed the sign for isolation. The blackness of the pupil around this sign will symbolize the darkness that these students feel when ASL is not available. In the iris section I have drawn the other signs that they suggested. I have also drawn many waving hands in the background symbolizing the support they feel when signing is available. This section will be in color.

I hope you will enjoy following the progress of this piece over the coming couple of weeks.