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ASL Festival: Eye Music at the MAH

Eye Music: A Festival of American Sign Language Poetry
Friday, November 14, 2014 - 7:30pm
Museum of Art & History, Santa Cruz
Presented by: 
Arts Division

The Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History (MAH) hosts an evening of performance featuring Flying Words Project, Karen Christie, Shira Grabelsky, Tom Holcomb, Ella Lentz, Patrick Graybill. Performance curated and hosted by JAC, nationally known mistress of ceremonies, performer, and motivational speaker (pictured).

This event will be interpreted and is accessible to Deaf and non-Deaf audiences.
Free and open to the public.

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The ASL Festival is curated by Professor of Music Larry Polansky.

Made possible with support from:
Porter College Hitchcock Poetry Fund, UCSC
Division of the Arts, UCSC
Arts Dean’s Fund for Excellence, UCSC
Museum of Art and History, Santa Cruz
Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, UCSC
Institute for Humanities Research, UCSC
Department of Linguistics, UCSC

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About the Performers

Karen Christie (name-sign “KC”) recently retired as a professor of Deaf Cultural Studies and English from the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at Rochester Institute of Technology. She has taught ASL literature courses and published articles on ASL poetry. In addition, she has written poetry published in Deaf Lit Extravaganza, White Space Anthology, An Introduction to American Deaf Culture, and Clerc Scar. Along with Patti Durr, she has produced and edited an online subscription-based website: The HeART of Deaf Culture: Literary and Artistic Expressions of Deafhood.

Shira Grabelsky originates from New York and has performed, produced, and directed shows nationally and internationally, in both community theatres and professionally. She made her professional theatre debut as Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker at Washington, DC’s Arena Stage and most recently directed and performed in Kid Simple at the University of California, Berkeley. When not on stage, she often serves as an ASL Consultant, working with the production interpreting teams. She has had the pleasure of working with Arena Stage, colleges and universities in the greater Boston area, Boston’s Huntington Theatre and Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon. She is also a teacher at the California School for the Deaf in Fremont, teaching ASL at the Elementary School.

Patrick Graybill, revered as a grandfather of ASL poetry, was born in Kansas just before World War II began. He is one of seven children; five of them, including him, were born Deaf. He has a hearing sister who is a retired sign language interpreter. In 1958, he graduated from the Kansas School for the Deaf, where an eloquent Deaf storyteller made him think seriously about becoming like her. There, he also saw his older sister in a school production of Tom Sawyer, which planted in his head the desire to be an actor. He graduated from Gallaudet College with a bachelor’s degree in English in 1963 and a master’s degree in education in 1964. He took a position as an instructor at Kendall School for the Deaf for three years. He became disillusioned with his first career and decided to study to be a Roman Catholic priest at Catholic University for two years — without interpreting services. It was a struggle that motivated him to accept an invitation to be a member of the newly established National Theatre of the Deaf. There he had a wonderful decade as a professional actor and, for a few years, operated its summer school for aspiring actors. He retired in 2004 having been a performing arts and literature professor for 23 years at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf. He recently retired as permanent deacon for Emmanuel Church of the Deaf in Rochester, New York, after 32 years. He was conferred the degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, Honorius Causa, from St. Thomas University, Miami Gardens, Florida, in 2005. His avocations are acting, storytelling, creating, translating texts from English into American Sign Language, and creating original poems in ASL

Thomas K. Holcomb is Professor at Ohlone College in Fremont,
where he teaches courses related to Deaf Culture, Deaf Education, and
Interpreting to both deaf and hearing students. Previously, he taught at
San Jose State University and the National Technical Institute for the
Deaf in Rochester, New York. Tom’s academic credentials include a
Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Gallaudet University, Master’s
degree in Career and Human Resources Development from Rochester
Institute of Technology, and a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from
the University of Rochester. His published works include several books
including Introduction to American Deaf Culture (2013), and Deaf Culture, Our Way: Anecdotes from the Deaf Community (2011). In addition, he has produced several educational videos including See What I Mean: Differences Between Deaf and Hearing Cultures (2009), and A Sign of Respect: Strategies for Effective Deaf/Hearing Interactions (2008). He is also the featured performer in the Boys Town Press videotape series Read With Me: Stories for Your Deaf Child.
He is well known for his dynamic presentation style which he uses to
bring together Deaf and hearing cultures. He has presented in 45 states
and several countries including Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Hong
Kong, Japan, and Sweden.

JAC, emcee/host, is a sharp-witted dynamic speaker, entertainer, trainer, and storyteller. She is an ASL sign master and a nationally well-known mistress of ceremonies for numerous organizations and national conferences. JAC has also directed several Deafhood Monologues performances. She graduated with a BA in Communication Arts (Studies) from Gallaudet University and currently works as a School & Community Resources Coordinator at California School for the Deaf in Fremont. When JAC is not working, she loves to travel and has a deep love for collectable vintage motorcycles.