Fran Flaherty is a deaf artist living in Pittsburgh for over 25 years. As a first generation
immigrant from the Philippines, her work is centered in issues surrounding migrant family
relations and assimilation, maternal feminism, disability aesthetics, and social work. Her work is inspired by the care paradigm. A premise that human beings cannot survive alone and the progress of human beings, as a species, flows from our identity as social animals, connected to one another through ties of love, kinship, and clanship. It is the prospect of this harmony that inspired her to create Anthropology of Motherhood, an ongoing project which highlights artworks of art that engage in the complex visual, material, emotional, corporeal, and lived experiences of motherhood, caregiving, parenting, nurturing, and maternal labor.
Fran currently resides in Allison Park with her husband Tim, their sons, and her hearing dog,
Photo credit: Grace Roselli, Pandora’s BoxX Project
During this time of political polarization and pandemic culture, the message of the billboard, as expected will have many different interpretations but the goals in creating this piece are: first, LOVE in ASL is recognizable because of the similarity of the signed letters to the orthography of the word ie, the L in ASL looks very much like the letter “L.” The O in ASL is similar to the letter “O” and so on. This creates a small but profound connection to people who are D/deaf ASL speakers. By simply making the connection of literacy in 2 languages, we open up a small opportunity to learn a different culture. As a person immersed in Deaf and Mainstream Culture, it is important to me to point out the intersections of these cultures. Second, unlike having text, American Sign Language is an active and dynamic language. The effort to communicate in ASL requires conspicuous action and this action is implied when you see the images of the signed letters. The billboard, though a static 2D image, is activated in the presence of the different hand letter shapes. Similar to the word LOVE, while the word is a noun, it is felt only with action.”