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A work of art Inside N&E

“Sign Internationally” by NTID alumnus Nancy Rourke ’82, ’86

When the October/November edition of RIT’s Athenaeum hits stands later today, I’m hoping our readers will pause to examine the cover artwork.

This issue’s cover story features the evolution of RIT’s bicultural campus—specifically, our deaf and hard-of-hearing community living and working in a unique environment with hearing community members. Early discussions with Athenaeum’s graphic designer Pete Bella revolved around using an image that was somehow representative of NTID. But, the question remained: Is it possible to sum up an entire community with one image? The answer is obviously ‘no,’ but Athenaeum has never been produced with a big, white hole where the cover should be, so we needed to come up with something.

Our archives contain images of receptions and events at NTID, as well as lots of photos of people signing, but we needed something unique, abstract. Pete suggested using a cool piece of art, but where to begin? Throughout my journey for the perfect cover, I made a few discoveries along the way. The Dyer Arts Center at NTID is a great gallery housing some truly unique pieces of art. For the first time in 12 years, I really got to know the space. Another of my discoveries was Bob Baker, the gallery’s director. I’d like to thank Bob for his flexibility and patience as I picked his brain—over and over and over—for just the right piece.

And I found it. NTID alumnus Nancy Rourke ’82, ’86 (computer graphics and painting) created an oil-on-canvas piece that we believe perfectly represents the unique and colorful “culture” of being deaf on a college campus. The piece we selected for the cover, “Sign Internationally,” depicts hands moving to the very familiar “applause” sign. The painting is stimulating and thought-provoking—so “NTID.”

Nancy was so gracious and appreciative when I approached her about using her painting on the cover. We exchanged more e-mails than you can imagine—and I even called her—to be sure that I had her support in selecting this piece. All of Nancy’s paintings are beautiful, and I thank her for allowing us to share her views of deafness with our readers, if only in a limited capacity.

Nancy Rourke’s work, as well a series of paintings about deafhood, deaf history and audism, is on display at Dyer Arts Center through Nov. 19.


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