Amy Cohen Efron

Language First

Language First, photograph by Amy Cohen Efron.

A color photograph depicts a very sterile environment with a clean glass surface on top of which are three types of equipment associated with the medical model of deafness: a pincher, two brown hearing aids facing each other, and an otoscope. The shadows underneath the medical tools form the three letters A, S, L–as in American Sign Language.


Overshadowed, a digital art painting by Amy Cohen Efron.
A digital art painting depicts a scene at a football stadium full of spectators and flashing lights. A prominent spotlight shines on musical artist, Demi Lovato; she is wearing a white outfit and has long brown hair. Lovato sang “The Star Spangled Banner” (the U. S. National Anthem) during the pre-game of Super Bowl LIV in Kansas City, MO, on February 2, 2020. Lovato is shown prominently on the right side of the image, singing into a tall, standing microphone on a white platform. In the lower left of the image, a much smaller figure is shown, in shadow. This silhouetted figure, a slender woman with their arms raised in the air, signs “BRAVE.” The figure depicted in shadow is Deaf artist Christine Sun Kin, who performed the song in American Sign Language while Lovato performed it in English.

About the Artist

Amy Cohen Efron was born Deaf. During her childhood, she dabbled in different art mediums to express her innermost thoughts and feelings; doing so was the only way that she could effectively communicate, at that time. Cohen Efron took several art classes while at school. At Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., she double majored in Studio Art and Psychology. She started her professional career as a school psychologist in 1992. Cohen Efron worked for a non-profit organization, several state schools for the Deaf, and a residential treatment center for Deaf children for 26 years. Recently, she experienced a “mid-life crisis,” and started dabbling in art to cope. In February 2016, Cohen Efron successfully participated in Facebook’s De’VIA Central’s February Art Challenge. The motif on the third day of the challenge was SHADOW, representing something as hidden or as a message. Her photograph, Language First, created for the challenge, went viral on Facebook. Language First includes a visual metaphor for bilingualism, as highlighted in the accompanying image description. In 2020, Cohen Efron again participated in the art challenge. The SHADOW motif was re-introduced; in response, Cohen Efron created Overshadowed (please refer to accompanying image description). Again, the well-received art piece went viral on Facebook. Between 2006 and 2015, Cohen Efron was a vlogger/blogger for “Deaf World as Eye See it.” She now hosts the AEfron Arts and Culture website.

Back to Art | Back to Volume 14, Issue 1 – March 2020