The United States flag represents how we use American Sign Language (ASL) in this country. Deaf children and adults should have access to language for a healthy life, especially in education, healthcare, employment, and equality — and experience their Deafhood journeys.
The bald eagle is usually the symbol of our great country, and represents authority, statehood, and government powers. In this painting, the stars, broken hands, and bald eagle (behind the broken hands) represent the oralism regime that has engaged in economic coercion and misleading ideology that compels people into misguided control and power. The hegemony of this regime has been so strong. The hands, broken, are unable to sign the Pledge of Allegiance.
The Golden Gate Bridge, although majestic, is infamous for its reputation as a “suicide site.” In this painting, the bridge motif represents unhealthy and unequal positioning through colonialization by hearing people, as described by Dr. Paddy Ladd in his Deafhood book. He also describes the development of classification systems to justify the control and administration of Deaf people in every area possible, from education to employment to sterilization. By being forced into oralism, Deaf people are jumping off a bridge into blackness.
The black clouds throughout the painting represents how Deaf children are deprived of their rights time after time.
“Row, row, row your boat” is a classic song that often brings smiles to people’s faces. In this painting, it represents the struggle between oralism and ASL, and how Deaf children are often forced to row endlessly through hours of speech therapy and “listening-based” education. Yet it is possible to take the song lyrics and reshape them into a beautiful dream of equality. The girl in this painting is rowing her boat in search of a better world as she embarks on her Deafhood journey, embracing her identities while resisting oppression and negative views.