The Fingerspelling Code Update

Each book has a development cycle and timeline. The Fingerspelling Code has the longest timeline of any book I have been involved with. I was so sure it would be done in 2015 that I allowed pre-orders to be sold for it during most of that year. I could give a list of reasons why it has been delayed. Each of which is a pretty good reason, but I will spare you the excuses and just say that it is not finished. It is a better book because of it, but it isn't done.

Empyreal Press now has a team of eight people working on it in various ways. Some entire sections have been rewritten numerous times. Every photo of more than 700 photos has been retaken and upgraded. It is as if an entirely new book was written over the top of the book that was there and there is more to revise and improve. The end in in sight, but I will no longer be making predictions about this book. Its release will be announced when it is sent to print.

If you are one of the lucky people who pre-ordered the book in 2015 you will get it, and a gift when the book comes out. Thank you for your patience. I do believe you will be happy with it when you see it. If you did order it and you have moved or need the book sent elsewhere, please do contact Empyreal Press so that may be arranged.

Ann Silver's Lifetime Work featured at Dyer Arts Center


The Dyer Arts Center is proud to present a retrospective of the internationally-known artist's Deafcore work. Blending Pop Art and Deaf sensibility, her work will be showcased on the campus of NTID/RIT in Rochester, New York from March 3rd to April 22nd.

The artist reception will be held on Friday March 31st from 5 PM to 8 PM. Presentations by Silver and Jim Van Manen will be given. Also, a book signing of Ann Silver: Deaf Artist Series will be held. To obtain your copy of Ann Silver: Deaf Artist Series, visit

For full event details, please contact or visit

Don't miss this visual feast on a grand scale!

Columbia Chronicle Article

Professor Portrays Deaf Culture through Pop Art


Professor portrays Deaf culture through pop art

James Van Manen, associate professor in the American Sign Language-English Interpretation Department, combined ASL and pop art in his solo art show displayed in room 404 of the 33 E. Congress Parkway Building.

“I wanted to point out that signs in American Sign Language can be elevated to art,” Van Manen said. “[When people] think about a Deaf person, they say, ‘Oh they can’t hear.’ They don’t think about all of the things that are positive that might exist in their lives, and art is one of those things.”

Van Manen has been exploring and studying art since the late 1990s and working in the pop art genre since 2003.

Van Manen’s exhibit also displays his graphic design work done in collabortion with fellow Deaf artist, Ann Silver.

The exhibit began Sept. 25 and was supposed to last only one week, but has since been extended to Oct. 15, Van Manen said.

Chair of the American Sign Language-English Interpretation Department Peter Cook said the extension allows more students and faculty to view a special part of Deaf culture.

“People started to really trickle in more and more,” Cook said. “They didn’t realize they were missing a cultural portion of what American Sign Language and the Deaf community has, so we asked Jim if he could extend [his show].”

Bronwyn Schlaefer, sophomore theatre and American Sign Language-English interpretation double major, said she enjoys learning the stories behind Deaf art pieces.

“[Deaf people are] just normal people like us, so it’s really nice to see [their artwork],” Schlaefer said. “It’s cool to delve deeper into their experiences that inspire [their] art.”

Van Manen’s art is related to the Deaf community or De’VIA.

De’VIA, according to, is a Deaf art movement created in May 1989, 

“De’VIA is created when the artist intends to express their experience through visual art,” stated “De’VIA may also be created by deafened or hearing artists, if the intention is to create work that is born of their Deaf experience.”

Although Van Manen only became hard of hearing in the last five years, Cook said it was his experience of being a hearing child living with Deaf adults that shapes his De’VIA work.

“[Van Manen] grows up within the Deaf world where the main language is American Sign Language, and he also experiences the hearing world, so he has to balance the two of them growing up,” Cook said. “He uses that experience in his art work.”

Van Manen said he is glad Columbia had him exhibit his artwork despite not being a professional artist or an art professor.

“It’s great that I’m able to share this at our college,” he said. “I look forward to other faculty members sharing what they do in their lives to expand their understanding.” 


See the full article:

De'VIA Elders Reunion and De'VIA Reunion Conference

Empyreal Press is hosting the De'VIA Elders Reunion and the De'VIA Reunion Conference in late May 2016. Included in events is the De'VIA Reunion Celebration Gallery-- a chance to view artwork from the De'VIA Elders and other De'VIA artists who submit their artwork. Some artwork will be for sale so be sure to check it out if you can. All events will be held at Columbia College Chicago--in the C33 gallery and the C101 Gallery in 33 E Congress in downtown Chicago! Chicago is fast becoming the midwest home for De'VIA! 

The Reunion will lead to the completion of the De'VIA Framers: Deaf Artist Series which will be a significant addition to the Deaf Artist Series chroniclin the development of the original De'VIA Manifesto and give a glimpse into the thinking and artwork of the original framers of this important genre of art. 

This book will be available in January of 2017 if not before!

Ann Silver: Deaf Artist Series

The first book in the Deaf Artist Series was unveiled at the Viva De'VIA show in Rochester, NY on November 7. Orders are now being taken that will be signed by Ann Silver and the author, Jim Van Manen. The book is on sale through Ann Silver via Silver Moon Brand or through Empyreal Press. Look for it in other venues soon! The book was released in November, 2014.