“The ASL Flag” by Betty G. Miller
“The ASL Flag” is one of a series of paintings Betty did featuring the American flag. For this one, Betty rewrote the words to our national anthem, the “Star-Spangled Banner,” to show both the beauty of ASL, and the oppression deaf people still face:
“Oh can’t you seeee…. by dawn’s early light
what proudly…. we Deaf wave at visual beauty
we see in sign language burst in air…
no matter people hearing stare…
show proof that… Deaf and ASL still here…
oh why why Deaf people opressed?
over the land of the free…. and the home of the brave…??”
This is a diptych— one image on two canvases. The painting also embraces duality in other ways. For example, while the real flag is red, white and blue, this one is pink, off white and light blue— pleasing and eye catching. But the faded colors show that deaf people aren’t considered full members of American society. Recent controversies arising about the rights and abilities of deaf and hard of hearing people to sit on juries is a case in point. Another duality is the reference to sign language and people staring. While some are staring because they are interested, others stare because they see it as strange, or think that the deaf people are angry when what they are really seeing is emphasis.
So, is this a negative or a positive painting? Just like life, it’s both.
Do you have other interpretations for this painting? Go ahead and add a comment.
*** Just finished putting this image on products in our Cafepress shop: http://www.cafepress.com/purpleswirlarts/6823437. There’s one tote bag and a lot of different t-shirts listed, so you’ve got some choices! ***