April 20 – September 11, 2022

Not Born Yesterday, Not Going Away

Curated by Alex Bulmer

Canada, Iceland, Mexico, United Kingdom

Celebrating the long history of Deaf and disability art, connecting living international artists with their chosen ancestors.

Artist David Bobier works on his piece

David Bobier, Innocent When You Dream, Photo courtesy of the artist

This event is a Nordic Spotlight, part of Nordic Bridges.


Deaf and disabled people worldwide have a long history of artistic expression.  

Still, Deaf and disability art is relatively unknown or is perceived as an innovation to established forms.  

Not Born Yesterday, Not Going Away celebrates the long history of Deaf and disability art, connecting living artists with their chosen ancestors. It aims to create across time, honoring those who have shaped our present and moving forward with a strong sense of collective history. 

David Bobier, Innocent When You Dream  

Artistic Ancestor Honouring: Dancer and amputee Lisa Bufano 

David Bobier is a hard of hearing and disabled media artist whose creative practice is researching and developing vibrotactile technology as a creative medium. This work led to his establishment in 2014 of VibraFusionLab in London, Ontario, an innovative multi-media, multi-sensory centre that has gained a reputation as a leader in accessibility for the Deaf and disability arts movement in Canada and abroad. As a practicing artist, his exhibition career includes 18 solo and 30 group exhibitions in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. VibraFusionLab is now based outside of London in Thorndale, Ontario but moves its resources and expertise to creative collaborations and support wherever it can be caring and valuable.   

Bobier’s independent work as an artist and as the Director of VibraFusionLab has received funding from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Ontario Centre’s of Excellence, Grand NCE (National Centre’s of Excellence), the province of Quebec and the British Council in Canada.   

Bobier has served in advisory roles in developing Deaf and Disability Arts Equity programs for both the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council. He was an invited participant at the Canada Council for the Arts, The Arts in a Digital World Summit and a panel presenter at the Global Disability Summit in London, England. Bobier has twice received funding from the Canada Council for the Arts to do ongoing research on the Deaf and Disability Arts movement in the United Kingdom. 

Sally Booth, Degas Red

Artistic Ancestor Honoured:  French artist Edgar Degas 

Sally Booth is a London-based visual artist whose main specialism is drawing and painting. She graduated with a BA Honours in Fine Art at Bristol and a Masters in Drawing at Wimbledon School of Art.  

Booth’s work has been exhibited internationally and across the United Kingdom. This has included 3D drawing installations on the South Bank, Sage Gateshead and touring exhibitions in Japan and the Czech Republic.  

Her ACE/Creative Scotland collaborative project was showcased at Tate Modern Turbine Hall and McAulay Gallery, the Scottish Parliament and Shetland Museum.  

Recent projects have included Artist-in-Residence for Extant Theatre Company and she works as a freelance trainer with VocalEyes, teaches art to children and adults and has facilitated workshops in galleries, museums, heritage sites, outdoor spaces and community settings. She recently appeared on the BBCFour TV program The Disordered Eye as part of their disability season. 

Maryam Hafizirad, Mother of De’VIA, Seeds from Within 

Artistic Ancestor Honoured: Betty G. Miller, mother of De’VIA (Deaf View Image Art) 

Maryam Hafizirad is a Deaf Canadian-Persian painter and sculptor. Graduate of Isfahan University of Fine Arts with her first exhibition at age 18 in Iran, her award-winning exhibitions have been featured in Iran, China, Germany, Malaysia, India and Canada. Hafizirad’s Persian classical works were dark in subject and colour, with women’s faces and bodies forbidden. When she moved to Malaysia and settled in Canada, her work transformed. She began painting bright Persian and De’VIA metaphors (acrylic, crushed coloured glass and watercolour), pomegranates (symbols of hidden love released), fish in water (sincere human beings in her silent world of pure beauty) and birds (embodying her newfound freedom in this country). The third phase of her work fuses these symbols in significant mixed-media installation experiences with ceramic, colourful, glazed sculptures, handshapes and large eyes affirming her Deaf identity, graceful language, quiet strength and life itself. 

Hanan Hazime, The Two Hanans 

Artistic Ancestor Honoured: Mexican artist Frida Khalo 

Hanan Hazime is a multidisciplinary artist, creative writer, community arts educator and creative writing instructor living in Tkaronto/Toronto. She identifies as a Mad/Neurodivergent Canadian-Lebanese Shi’a Muslimah. When not writing or creating art, Hazime enjoys reading fantasy and science fiction novels, overanalyzing things, photo-blogging, dancing with faeries in the woods and drinking copious amounts of tea.  

Erla Björk Sigmundsdóttir

Artistic Ancestor Honoured: American neurodivergent artist John Hiltunen 

Erla Björk Sigmundsdóttir is a visual artist born in 1973 in Iceland. She lives and works in Sólheimar, an eco-village in the south of Iceland. She is a versatile and creative artist who expresses herself uniquely through various art forms, including visual arts, dance and music. Sigmundsdóttir’s embroidery art has received much recognition, and she has taken part in many art exhibitions both in Iceland and abroad. In 2016, Sigmundsdóttir was chosen the Artist of the Year at the Icelandic art festival Art Without Borders. 

Elaine Stewart, grasses, grasses, grasses 

Artistic Ancestor Honoured: Neurodivergent and Deaf American sculptor Judith Scott 

Elaine Stewart’s art practice evolved anew after an experience of trauma. Driven to explore and understand the events that shaped her later life, she entered the Toronto School of Art. It was here she found herself revisiting remembered relationships with thread and fibre at the roots of her family history, left behind, almost unknown, across a dark ocean. The dimensionality and presence of the fibres allowed her to develop her new artistic practice. Stitched threads became images with physical depths.  

Practicing in Toronto, she harvests the emotional, organic sense of the fibres to give voice to her stories. Moving as Mad, where she holds that recognizing extreme distress, outside of the bio-medical model that has come to control the “mental health” paradigm, gives her peace. Her body, reframed by the pharmaceutical explosion of self, begins again and again. 

Joaquín Urrutia, Enter Yesterday

Artistic Ancestor Honoured: Canadian folk artist Maud Lewis 

Joaquín Urrutia graduated with a Master’s degree in Contemporary Photography from Madrid’s International Center of Photography and Cinema. He then travelled to Africa to carry out a project on migration. Urrutia’s works have been published in Cuartoscuro, Nexos, El Pais, El Universal, and exhibited in the United States, Spain and Canada. He has collaborated with numerous organizations, including the Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Mexico, the Consulate of the United States of America, the Ministry of Culture of Argentina, the British Council, the Arts Council of Wales, Creative Scotland and the National Access Arts Center of Canada. Urrutia is recognized by the British Council as a spokesperson for disability art in Mexico and was the Delegate of Mexico at the Unlimited Festival in 2021. 

Lisa Walter, Insulting Words in the Singing of Birds 

Artistic Ancestor Honouring: 430 artists incarcerated in asylums in the 20th century – at least 20 murdered by the Nazis in WW2. 

Lisa Walter is a multidisciplinary artist and educator. In 2017, she was an Artist-in-Residence of the Muscle Memory International Ceramic Symposium at the International Ceramic Studio in Hungary, culminating in the exhibition The Body Has Reasons Which Reason Knows Not of at Craft Ontario in 2019. Walter has exhibited regularly with Workman Arts, including two solo shows. Her work has appeared at Nuit Blanche Toronto, the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition, Propeller Centre for the Visual Arts, Urban Gallery, New Adventures in Sound Art (NAISA) and the Rendezvous with Madness Film Festival. She designed the signature collection of the Mad Couture Catwalk, featured at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Fashion Art Toronto and Rideau Hall, and her work was featured by Crow’s Theatre alongside their production of Psychosis 4.48. The Globe and Mail has described her work as “delicate and unsparing.” 

Accessibility Information

  • Audio Description, including the artist bio, artist statement and image description, will be available on-site via QR code. Volunteers will be available to assist with QR code access during building hours. A smartphone and headphones are required for QR code scanning. A limited number of devices will be available for guests to borrow if needed. 
  • A braille book will be available with information about the exhibition. Braille books and borrowed equipment for Audio Description access can be picked up at the Information Desk in the Main Building lobby during gallery hours. 


West Vitrines

235 Queens Quay West
Toronto ON M5J 2G8

Keywords Public Art