One special project that I have been working on for a couple of years is called Contemporary Signing: the Language of Art. It is a pilot project for people from the D/deaf and hard-of-hearing communities. My desire to work with people from these communities dates back to when I was a child. My mother had a long career with The Montreal Oral School for the Deaf from the 80s until she retired in the 2000s. I would occasionally accompany her to work, and became interested in learning more about D/deaf culture. I had a chance to explore this interest more when I worked in the Education department at MoMA, where I contributed to Interpreting MoMA, a monthly program dedicated to D/deaf adults. The relationships that developed between the participants and the museum workers was really quite beautiful, and I wanted to introduce something like it at the Foundation.
For the Contemporary Signing project, I reached out to a non-profit organization, Seeing Voices Montréal, whose mission is to build connections between D/deaf and hearing people. They were interested in partnering with us immediately, and we have been working in close contact with them to develop the project. We are also collaborating with Deaf artist Pamela Witcher, who has developed an art workshop for our groups inspired by Yayoi Kusama’s work, entitled Share your dot of love. Witcher’s workshop is based on Kusama’s interest in spreading love and peace, the polka dot as a means of connection, and hand gestures, and culminates in an interactive communal artwork. For the Contemporary Signing project, which took place on November 5th, 2022, I led a guided visit of the Yayoi Kusama exhibition in English, with American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation, and then Witcher led the art workshop Share your dot of love in ASL, with English interpretation. The event was followed by some celebratory snacks, where people mingled and continued to explore with the art materials from the workshop. We were delighted that of the twenty-six people who signed up for the event, all twenty-six of them attended! There were families with children between the ages of 2 and 12, adults, students, and a really nice mix of people who are D/deaf, hard-of-hearing, and hearing, but either work with the D/deaf community, or are learning ASL.