Students create, share work based on deaf, hard of hearing experience with Regina art exhibit

·2 min read
The From Deaf Shame to Deaf Same art exhibit features a series of dioramas, photographs and written descriptions. They illustrate feelings ranging from isolation and humiliation to acceptance and belonging within the Deaf community. (Kirk Fraser/CBC News - image credit)
The From Deaf Shame to Deaf Same art exhibit features a series of dioramas, photographs and written descriptions. They illustrate feelings ranging from isolation and humiliation to acceptance and belonging within the Deaf community. (Kirk Fraser/CBC News - image credit)

A new art installation at the Regina Public Library is shining light on experiences of deaf and hard of hearing students.

From Deaf Shame to Deaf Same was created by students at Winston Knoll Collegiate's deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) program, with guidance from local theatre group Deaf Crows Collective.

Through a series of dioramas, photographs and written descriptions, the artists illustrate the feelings of isolation and humiliation they sometimes feel — but also, the acceptance and belonging they've found within the Deaf community.

"Honestly, I am feeling pretty good to tell my stories, and to let people know how deaf and hard of hearing people feel," said Jeff Liu, a DHH student who had a hand in the exhibit.

Liu says the piece that focuses on bullying within the Deaf community resonates most with him.

Kirk Fraser/CBC News
Kirk Fraser/CBC News

Michelle Grodecki, a teacher at Knoll, says it's been a powerful project for her students — many of whom have grown up language deprived due to a lack of access to the appropriate education.

"We've had students enter our program who had a really hard time identifying a feeling — whether they were happy, sad or mad. But towards the end of this, we were able to have more discussion," she explained.

"Art has really helped with that. It's been that continuum that allowed that to happen."

LISTEN | From Deaf Shame to Deaf Same art exhibit launches at Regina library:

Yamama Alrweilei, another DHH student who worked on the installation, said everyone felt like an equal during the process, which helped elevate the experience.

"No one was left out or felt less than," the Grade 11 student said through an American sign language (ASL) facilitator.

Kirk Fraser/CBC News
Kirk Fraser/CBC News

Allard Thomas, a Deaf mentor with the DHH program, said this project emphasizes a need for students to have more exposure to ASL.

The exhibit "really impacted me because there was a lot of grief hearing their stories," he said though an ASL facilitator.

"In mainstream culture, it's very normal to be listening and hearing things, but for these students they don't have that ability."

Alrweilei hopes this project leads to better access to ASL education and further equality in general.

"I want people to learn to support us — support the Deaf," she said. "Deal with us the same way you'd deal with a hearing person; deaf people are the same."

From Deaf Shame to Deaf Same is on display at the George Bothwell Library until June 25.

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