Wall art by Christine Sun Kim
[Transcript] Deaf artist Christine Sun Kim created a powerful work of art on a large wall in London with the words, “If sign language was considered equal, we’d already be friends.” Check out this image.
[Image of the art piece. It shows a large wall in an urban area with the words, “If sign language was considered equal, we’d already be friends” in capitalized white letters with a black background.] *Credit: Matt Rowe, Courtesy of Art Night]
Powerful display. I asked Kim what was the inspiration to make this message.
CHRISTINE SUN KIM:
The director of Art Night asked me if I was interested in this opportunity of creating one. That was exciting for me. Then they told me that they had a deaf school that was only one block around the corner, just on the other side of the dividing wall. This interested me, and it was called the Frank Barnes School for Deaf children. It was adjacent to another school.
After we got the logistics worked out, I visited the school. The kids there were between 3-4 years old through 7-8 years old. I met with them, chatted with them and it was just to talk about what being deaf and sign language meant to them and what this all means to us.
I noticed a common theme with their comments. These kids just wish that the other kids, the hearing kids, would learn and know sign language so they can be friends. So, they can race, they can play games and just hang out. That touched me because, as I look back to when I was younger, I thought the exact same things! Hmm, does that mean that, 30 years later, we still won’t have any meaningful changes when it comes to attitude towards the deaf community and towards sign language? Would things still be the same? It’s quite an uneasy feeling. That experience isn’t just limited to America, but it’s also universal so I decided to create the print based on the comments these kids made.
ALEX: I asked her kind of impact the mural made.
CHRISTINE SUN KIM:
To be honest, I didn’t know what kind of impact this would have on people who saw my wall print, but I do hope that print…,” If sign language was considered equal,” then so on. I feel that when you step back, look at the bigger picture, if there was equality, there’d be easier and better access to education. There’d be laws that better serve people, more inalienable rights, better access to funding maybe. All of that would lead to sign language being more widely used whether they’re deaf or hearing. Plus, deaf people would get respect, deaf culture would get respect. That’s such a rare thing these days. I hope that when people see the wall print, it’ll be imprinted into their minds and down the road, when they hold positions of power, hold jobs that have influence over the legislative process, I hope they’ll remember this, adjust accordingly and be responsive at some point. That’s really my biggest wish. We can hope!
ALEX: I saw that one of her art pieces had the word, “Bing” on it.
[Image] A white canvas with black charcoal writing. The first line reads: “English vs Deaf English”. Below that is a list of words and phrases: “Burger King, King Burger; ate, eat finish; very typical, bing; very interesting, 258; hearing person, hearie; because, why”
Awesome. I asked her to share one of her Deaf Bings.
CHRISTINE SUN KIM:
For Deaf bing, I had to think hard for this one. I think I have one. I do travel a lot as an artist, for work, maybe too frequently. It’s not like multiple short commutes, it’s long flights to other countries around the world. Obviously, I can’t do my work based on a routine schedule. I mean I mean I have this team of interpreters plus a new one that’s often assigned to me. It feels like every time I travel, when I get settled down at the hotel, the first person I would see is the interpreter. We would go out to eat or for drinks. We would sit down and catch up or just to get to know each other. That, I feel, is a Deaf bing!
Thank you for your time and explaining, Kim! I thought the wall was one large piece or a painting, but it was actually made up of many pieces that were placed one by one by a crew.
[Image of crew putting up art]
Do you want to see some more of her previous work?
[Images of previous art work]