New Horizons: Digital Opportunities for Deaf Artists
New Horizons was an opportunity for eight DHH artists to present their work digitally to a global audience. The participants learned how to photograph their art professionally; how to write an artist’s statement and bio; how to conduct an interview; and how to present their artwork and themselves in a digital format.
As a result of language barriers—as well as other barriers—DHH artists are often excluded from opportunities to share their art or are hesitant to participate in events beyond the Deaf community. With MCSD leading the project, the DHH artists were able to feel confident and safe presenting their work to a wider artistic community. To ensure the project’s success and authenticity, all participants and facilitators were members of the DHH community.
Deaf videographer Michael Austria worked with MCSD and the eight artists to create dynamic interviews with each participant and their artwork, using their language of choice. Questions for the interviews were sent ahead of time to allow each artist to prepare. Covid-19 protocols were followed throughout; each artist arrived at a prearranged time at the video recording studio for their interviews. Sanitation procedures were in place.
Each video is between four and five minutes long. The eight individual artist’s videos include closed captioning so that both the Deaf community and the non-deaf population can access and enjoy the interviews.
The project provided multiple digital platforms for the DHH artists to present their artwork. The exhibition is presented on MCSD-DAM's website, Facebook page, Instagram feed, and YouTube channel. The videos were also at the heart of the opening reception for the exhibition, which—due to the Covid-19 situation—took place in the form of an online Zoom watch party. This party was recorded and is also now available on MSCD-DAM's social media spaces.
Impact of the project
A survey was sent out to all eight of the artists after the Artist Spotlight postings. All artists have positive reviews of their videos on social media. One artist was commissioned to create artwork, and another was inspired by the positive comments to complete his new website. Other participants said that they now have a broader audience and have received inquiries about their work from across Canada and overseas. The emerging artists reported feeling the most impact thanks to the program.
The timing of this project was particularly opportune due to the Covid-19 pandemic. With isolation impacting so many communities—including the DHH community—it is more important than ever that we find new ways to connect. By supporting and celebrating the ingenuity of our DHH artists, we can show the wider community the value and excellence of our artists. We hope and anticipate that this exhibition will lead to new, exciting connections and opportunities for DHH artists.