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Work Samples

A Visual Meditation on Natural Gestures

This six-minute, nonverbal film is an exploration in universal gestures within our natural environment and discovering peace, humor, and awe during these uncertain times. Hopefully, a Deaf audience will enjoy and appreciate the film’s meditative nature – something difficult to do with audio recordings on meditation. And, at the same time, a hearing audience will be inspired by the beauty and ease of creating natural gestures, which is the foundation of most sign languages around the world.

"The World of White Water"

"The World of White Water" is a chapbook of 36 selected poems, including those involving the Deaf experience. This is the book's video promo which includes an ASL performance (with English subtitles) of one of the Deaf experience poems titled "A Deaf Baptism." The book was published in 2021 by Kelsay Books.

"Vignettes of the Deaf Character and Other Plays"

This book is a collection of twelve plays (monologues, one-acts, and full-lengths) of mine written over a span of 20 years. The plays were written about various characteristics of the Deaf invidual, all written from the authentic viewpoint of a Deaf writer. It was published by Gallaudet University Press in 2009.

"The Deaf Heart -- A Novel"

Told through a series of quirky, irreverent short stories and letters home during the early 1980s, "The Deaf Heart" chronicles a year in the life of a Deaf medical photography resident at a teaching hospital on the island of Galveston, Texas. The novel was published by Gallaudet University Press in 2015. It includes 30 black-and-white interior photographs of mine as well as a color photo for the front cover.

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About Willy

Howard County

Willy Conley's picture
A native of Baltimore, Willy Conley is a retired professor and chairperson of the Theatre Arts department at Gallaudet University, the world's only liberal arts university for deaf and hard-of-hearing people. He is a multi-disciplinary artist -- who happens to be Deaf -- working in the areas of theatre, writing, and photography, sometimes separately, and at other times together. As a playwright he has won the VSA 2000 Playwrights Discovery Award, the American Deaf Drama Festival Award, the Sam Edwards... more

A Visual Meditation on Natural Gestures

Statement: This film is an exploration in universal gestures within our natural environment and discovering peace, humor, and awe during these uncertain times. Hopefully, a Deaf audience will enjoy and appreciate the film’s meditative nature – something difficult to do with audio recordings on meditation. And, at the same time, a hearing audience will be inspired by the beauty and ease of creating natural gestures, which is the foundation of most sign languages around the world. 

Synopsis: Filmed during a period of civic unrest and the Covid-19 pandemic, a Deaf woman takes a meditative journey through North America and discovers universal gestures within the natural environment that brings her peace, humor, and awe.

  • A Visual Meditation on Natural Gestures

    This six-minute, nonverbal film is an exploration in universal gestures within our natural environment and discovering peace, humor, and awe during these uncertain times. Hopefully, a Deaf audience will enjoy and appreciate the film’s meditative nature – something difficult to do with audio recordings on meditation. And, at the same time, a hearing audience will be inspired by the beauty and ease of creating natural gestures, which is the foundation of most sign languages around the world.

Published Books

These are my published books that also include my photographs on the front covers.

  • The World of White Water

    My photograph shot at the Outer Banks of North Carolina was used for the cover of my book of 36 poems: "The World of White Water." It was published in 2021 by Kelsay Books.
  • "The World of White Water"

    "The World of White Water" is a chapbook of 36 selected poems, including those involving the Deaf experience. This is the book's video promo which includes an ASL performance (with English subtitles) of one of the Deaf experience poems titled "A Deaf Baptism." The book was published in 2021 by Kelsay Books.
  • "Listening Through the Bone"

    My photograph of a Traveler's Palm taken in the Dominican Republic was used for the cover of my book of collected poems, "Listening Through the Bone." It was published in 2019 and also includes 41 black-and-white interior photos of mine.
  • Listening Through the Bone -- Collected Poems

    This is a book promo video of Willy Conley's book of poems, "Listening Through the Bone," published by Gallaudet University Press; November 2018. It includes a short ASL performance of a haiku.
  • "The Deaf Heart -- A Novel"

    Told through a series of quirky, irreverent short stories and letters home during the early 1980s, "The Deaf Heart" chronicles a year in the life of a Deaf medical photography resident at a teaching hospital on the island of Galveston, Texas. The novel was published by Gallaudet University Press in 2015. It includes 30 black-and-white interior photographs of mine as well as a color photo for the front cover.
  • "The Deaf Heart", book trailer (captioned)

    This video is a book trailer promoting my novel, "The Deaf Heart."
  • Broken Spokes, front book cover

    This is The Tactile Mind Press' publication of my play, "Broken Spokes," which includes my photo of an abandoned pickup truck on the front cover. A video clip from the play may be found within the "Vignettes of the Deaf Character and Other Plays" project.

Vignettes of the Deaf Character and Other Plays

This book is a collection of twelve plays (monologues, one-acts, and full-lengths) of mine written over a span of 20 years. The plays were written about various characteristics of the Deaf invidual, all written from the authentic viewpoint of a Deaf writer.

  • The water falls.

    The water falls. is a memory play from the Vignettes... book (see video clip for a scene from this play).

    PDF icon The water falls.
  • Scene from "The water falls."

    This shot was taken early in the development of "The water falls." at Center Stage. Mike Deninger is in the role of Grandpop, and myself in the role of Jed.
  • The water falls.

    Short scene when Grandpop appears in Jed's mind, in the Quest: Arts for Everyone production of this play at Olney Theatre in Maryland, March 2003.
  • Broken Spokes

    Broken Spokes, a full-length play in seven scenes from the Vignettes... book (see video clip for a scene from this play).

    PDF icon Broken Spokes
  • Broken Spokes

    These are some short scenes from my play, "Broken Spokes," which was produced in the fall of 2009 in 1510 Theater Lab by the Department of Performing Arts at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at Rochester Institute of Technology.
  • "Falling on Hearing Eyes"

    Falling on Hearing Eyes -- A Touring Museum of Sign /anguish for People with Communications Disorders is from Vignettes... .  This play was originally developed as part of my MFA Thesis at Towson University. It was later developed at Center Stage where it was given a workshop production (see video clip for a scene from this play).

    PDF icon "Falling on Hearing Eyes"
  • "Falling on Hearing Eye -- a Museum of Sign /anguish for People with Communication Disorders

    This is a scene from a workshop production of my play, "Falling on Hearing Eyes," produced at CenterStage in Baltimore with Ken Albers as director and actors Adrian Blue (Guide) and Michael Regnier (Techie).
  • The Universal Drum, a dramatic, visual poem with drum accompaniment

    The Bethesda Academy of Performing Arts Imagination Stage commissioned The Universal Drum, a performance piece, for the Deaf Access Company in 2002. The goal was to offer something quick and simple to set up on tour to perform before deaf and hearing audiences that would express the essence of the company. In April 2011, this dramatic choreo-poem was produced by ARBOS as part of the European and International Deaf Theatre Festival. The play was subsequently produced in January 2018 by Sign & Sign Company at Dixon Place in New York City.

    PDF icon The Universal Drum, a dramatic, visual poem with drum accompaniment
  • Universal Drum on Magazine Cover

    A shot from a production of "The Universal Drum" shown on the cover of Theatre for Young Audiences Today magazine.

Goya - en la quinta del sordo (in the house of the deaf man)

This nonverbal play is an exploration in gestures, masquerade, movement, and visual effects, including phantasmagoria, to discover the onslaught of Goya's deafness, and the impact it had on his life. It was written and directed by Willy Conley. This production won top honors in the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, Region II, at Carnegie Mellon University in 2008.

Human Sign Language

Being profoundly Deaf, I need to use American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate in my daily life.  ASL is a three-dimensional, mobile, visual language, which cannot be written or spoken.  During my travels in America, it is seldom that I meet other people who know ASL, so communication with people who can hear is often inaccessible or difficult, unless I write back and forth with them in English on paper.  What I have come to appreciate are symbols or written English language on signs in the American landscape.  Handwritten, manufactured, or printed text are little windows of access where I understand the language of a particular environment, no matter how coherent, incoherent, congruous or incongruous it may be. 

Watergraphs

Watergraph was a term I invented that came from taking photographs of water reflections that have been turned upside-down. Depending on environmental factors like the wind, debris in the water, and the color of the sky, each inverted reflection created a painting in its own right framed by whatever was surrounding the water. This is part of my serendipitous quest of water reflections that range from little puddles to large bodies of water. To see how the images were originally discovered, turn your head (or your laptop, tablet, smartphone) upside-down.

Shacks and Shanties

I've always been intrigued by shacks and shanties set in various locales. I become obsessed over how the human spirit lived and/or worked in such unique, tiny spaces.

Biomedical Photography

My training towards certification as a Registered Biological Photographer in 1981 began with getting accepted into the Biomedical Photographic Communications program at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Since I was (and still am) profoundly deaf, I needed sign language interpreters and notetakers to succeed in getting my B.S. degree in the program. I was required to do two photo internships during the summer. I did one at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine's pathology photography department and one at Yale School of Medicine's department of medical illustration and Photography. I did further bio-photography studies in the pathology photography department at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. After passing the written, practical, and oral exams, I became the first Deaf person to become a Registered Biological Photograher (RBP). There are many aspects of biomedical photography involving botany, entomology, documenting clinical patients, veterinary medicine, ophthalmology, surgery, pathology, histology, infrared imaging, public relations, photo lab work, macroscopy, and microscopy.

The following photo projects reflects some aspects of biomedical photography that I was involved with during my early years as an RBP. Although I have not worked in the medical field for many years, the techniques that I have learned still stay with me as I continue to explore photography in a serendipitous way. It is always a fun bonus to be able to publish and exhibit my work here and there.

Photomicrographs

These are photographs taken through a light microscope. Some of the specimens were lit using polarized lighting. Others were enhanced with the use of histology stains.

Connect with Willy

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Willy's Curated Collection

This artist has not yet created a curated collection.