Artpace Teen Council: Remembering Chuck Baird, by Aiden Hobbs
The Artpace Teen Council is a nine-month, paid program designed for San Antonio area high school students (15–18 years old) to become advocates for contemporary art and young leaders in their community. Teen Council members work with Artpace staff and artists to develop teen programs, support Artpace events, and create community-based projects throughout the school year.
This year, Teen Council members will research and write an Artpace blog entry about the innovative art and artists that make up the thriving community.
Chuck Baird was born in Kansas City in 1947 with moderate hearing loss. He was the youngest of five and his mother was an antique dealer and his father a jack of all trades. He grew up culturally deaf, attending many deaf schools like Kansas School for the Deaf. It was at this school that his love for art was nourished and he started winning competitions for his art pieces.
After high school he began studying art and theater at Gallaudet University; After two years he left Gallaudet to continue his education at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in studio painting in 1974.
After that, Chuck moved around the country, never staying in one place for long, and supporting himself by teaching his ways as a painter and as an actor. While working on his own art he joined the National Theatre of the Deaf (NTD) for five years. He later joined the Spectrum, a deaf colony of artists in Austin, Texas that focused on Photography and the coordination of visual Arts programs. He rejoined the NTD for another ten years as a set designer and actor.
Chuck dedicated a great amount of time to the deaf community. He created the label de’VIA (deaf view image art), “a type of painting depicting the life of a deaf individual in a hearing world,” with many other deaf artists. Chuck Baird shared his love of art with deaf children and teens as well as the world at art fairs. Chuck worked mainly with oil paint that visualized the deaf community or sign language in each piece to bridge the gap between the hearing world and the deaf world.
Despite losing his fight against cancer, Chuck Baird’s legacy still lives on through his art.
Aiden is a senior at the International School of the Americas. This is Aiden’s first year participating in the Artpace Teen Council.
(Images courtesy of National Technical Institute for the Deaf, Rochester Institute of Technology)