Living Loud: Chuck Baird - Artist and Founder of De'VIA

Living Loud: Chuck Baird - Artist and Founder of De'VIA

By Marta Belsky
Tuesday, July 9, 2024

This article is by Marta Belsky. Marta is Deaf and a third generation ASL user. She has been teaching ASL for 30 years and enjoys sharing her native language with new users.

Chuck Baird was an exemplary artist whose ability to capture the beauty of not only the world, but also Deaf culture and American Sign Language left us all in awe!

Baird was born deaf on February 22, 1947. He attended the Kansas School for the Deaf (KSD), which is where his love for art and ASL grew. After graduating from KSD in 1964, he attended Gallaudet University for two years. He then attended and graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology's National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) in 1974. At NTID, Baird received a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Studio Painting. While at NTID Baird also played football as a defensive lineman, but his love of art pulled him from time on the field to time in art class. Baird also participated in the Drama Club, and won NTID Best Actor Award his graduating year.

Chuck Baird and Willy Conley in the National Theatre of the Deaf's production of King of Hearts.

Chuck Baird, on the right, paints the King, fellow actor Willy Conley, in the 1988-1989 production of King of Hearts from the National Theater of the Deaf. Baird would paint the set (and cast!) every night during the show. (Photo Credit: The National Theatre of the Deaf Facebook Page)

He worked for NTD, National Theatre of the Deaf, as a set painter and designer. He worked there for over ten years. He acted in several productions and designed and painted several sets. One of his most memorable plays was “King of Hearts” where each night Baird would recreate the entire set in front of a live audience.

He was one of the founders of De’VIA, an art movement formed by Deaf artists to express their Deaf experience through art. The group of artists coined the term and wrote a manifesto for De’VIA in 1989 at the first International Deaf culture festival at Gallaudet University, called Deaf Way. Baird created many famous De’VIA artworks over the years. He was the official curator of the art exhibitions at Deaf Way II in 2002, which were showcased around Gallaudet and the Washington DC area. He is considered the "Father of De'VIA."

He traveled the country — working and living in Kansas, Washington, D.C., New York, Delaware, Texas, California, and Arizona — painting murals and leading art workshops. He served as an artist in residence at over thirty deaf schools. He was nationally known for sharing his love of art with deaf children at schools, camps, and by attending art festivals.

This well-known Deaf artist created some famous pieces, all of which were done in his unique style. Possessing a fascinating ability to capture the amazingness of ASL, the iconic nature of many signs can be seen vividly in Baird's paintings. See his painting entitled America below and observe America coming to life on canvas. Notice fingers interlocked together with a backdrop of the Southwest, two hands painted in red, white, and blue. See the sign for AMERICA to see the iconic nature displayed in the artwork. This is just one of hundreds of art pieces where Chuck Baird was able to make signs come alive through art.

Chuck Baird's painting entitled America

Painting entitled America (2003) by Chuck Baird

Who but the man himself could explain his art, Deaf art, better?

Chuck Baird Quote

“ Deaf art expresses the values of deaf culture – the beauty of sign language and its painful oppression, the joys of deaf bonding, communication breakdowns between signers and non-signers, the discovery of language and community, and the history of deaf people.

– Chuck Baird    

The deaf community lost an amazing man when he died at the age of 64 on February 10, 2012, after a long battle with cancer. 

See It Signed - Example Sentence

See this example sentence about Baird:


English Example: Chuck Baird was an artist and founder of the De'VIA art movement, which conveys a Deaf world viewpoint through art.

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More on Chuck Baird

Books About Chuck Baird

You can find these books on Amazon:


  1. Chuck Baird. (n.d.) Deaf Art. RIT National Technical Institute for the Deaf.Retrieved November 4, 2022 from
  2. Chuck Baird Reproduction Prints: Biographical Information: Chuck Baird. (n.d.). RIT Libraries: Distinctive Collections.Retrieved November 4, 2022 from
  3. Richards, D. (1989, May 17). King of Hearts’ A Good Sign. The Washington Post. Retrieved November 4, 2022 from
  4. The National Theatre of the Deaf. (2019, October 3). This photo is from the National Theater of the Deaf King of Hearts Production from 1988-1989. The performer on the right (artist) is Chuck Baird and the performer on the left (King) is Willy Conley [Image / Timeline Photo]. Facebook.

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About the Author

Marta Belsky Marta Belsky is Deaf and a third generation ASL user. She has been teaching ASL for 30 years and enjoys sharing her native language with new users. Marta is on the Lansing Community College Interpreter Training Program Advisory Board and has also been a board member for the Michigan Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf and the Michigan Chapter of American Sign Language Teachers Association.

More about Marta  |  Articles by Marta