PORTLAND, Ore. (April 24, 2018) – CymaSpace is thrilled to announce that the first annual Northwest Deaf Arts Festival (NWDAF) will take place on June 16, 2018 at Mississippi Studios. The NWDAF will bring together top national Deaf artists who share a vision for an inclusive and innovative multi-sensory cultural extravaganza made equally accessible for both Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) and hearing audiences. A diverse mix of Deaf artists will perform live on stage, backed by the latest sound visualization, open captioning and tactile technologies created by CymaSpace volunteers.
Headlining the NWDAF will be Detroit’s Deaf hip-hop artist Sean Forbes who complements his lyrics with American Sign Language. Hip Hop music has caught the attention of young DHH teens with its expressive, gestural performances. Sean has created a series of popular music videos with Oscar-winning Deaf actress Marlee Matlin and Deaf percussionist Evelyn Glennie. The festival will also feature dance sensation Antoine Hunter of the Urban Jazz Dance Company, and renowned Deaf poet Raymond Luczak. In addition, several local performing artists are on the roster, including immersive multimedia performer and CymaSpace founder Myles de Bastion. Tickets for the family matinee and evening show (21 and over) are available at www.nwdeafartsfest.com.
“When artists involve more of the senses, their work is not only more accessible and inclusive, but also more engaging and exciting. We really want to increase awareness for Deaf artists and provide more opportunities for Portlanders to experience Deaf culture. Deaf and signing artists bring a unique perspective to the arts,” says de Bastion.
NWDAF is produced by CymaSpace, a Portland non-profit arts and technology incubator. CymaSpace is dedicated to making all cultural events more accessible and inclusive to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing through technology, education and outreach. Committed Deaf and hearing volunteers lend their skills to develop a variety of art installations and stage sets that synergize sound, light, and vibration. The work of CymaSpace has been featured nationally on Jimmy Kimmel Live, as well as at festivals like What The Fest?, PDX Winter Light Festival, Kentucky DeaFestival, and prominent local institutions such as Portland Art Museum and Oregon Museum of Science & Industry (OMSI).
CymaSpace began in a basement near historic Mississippi Ave in Portland’s NE district. Profoundly Deaf artist and designer Myles de Bastion was frustrated with the challenge of creating music. Progressive hearing loss had left him unable to hear the notes or lyrics. Falling back on his technical training, de Bastion connected with the Portland maker community to create interactive light sculptures, enhancing the experience of music with visual representations of sound frequencies and dynamics.
As a member of the Deaf community, de Bastion became aware of barriers for DHH people who enjoyed performance art. Many budget-strapped arts & cultural organizations struggle to provide accessibility accommodations such as sign language interpreters. Therefore, de Bastion founded CymaSpace in 2013 with the mission to facilitate arts and cultural events that are inclusive of the DHH community.
According to the US Census, more than 180,000 Oregonians have difficulty hearing. Many experience isolation and negative stigma. CymaSpace strives to meet the challenges many in the Deaf community face by providing role models and increasing awareness of Deaf culture, which has a rich heritage of social beliefs, behaviors, literary traditions, values and artistic talent.
Key sponsors of the NWDAF include the Regional Arts & Culture Council, Randall Charitable Trust, Oregon Arts Commission, and Willamette Week Give!Guide.
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