2000 Presenter


ASL Immersion Weekend 2000

Johnston was born Deaf to artistic, hearing parents in Los Angeles, California. As a child, he attended the John Tracy Clinic and the Mary Bennett School. Later, he was enrolled at the California School for the Deaf at Riverside where he first learned ASL. He graduated from the Oregon School for the Deaf.

Johnston was the first deaf student to receive a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Furniture Design and Woodworking from the internationally known School for the American Craftsman at Rochester Institute of Technology. While at RIT, he studied Deaf Culture, Deaf Literature, and drama. He graduated from Pennsilvania State University with a Master of Science degree in Art Education and a minor in Sculpture. He later received a Doctorate in Art Education with a minor in Philosophy.

In 1975, Johnston made his acting debut with the National Theatre of the Deaf. From 1979 to 1981, he was an instructor in the Experimental Educational Theatre at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID). He developed an original course, “SignMime as Creative Signing in Theatre and Storytelling”; taught acting; and directed “Commedia Del Arts” and other plays. He and his cast created an original play, “Interview With God”, based on their collective perspectives, dreams, and insights as Deaf individuals. He also taught for four years at the Model Secondary School for the Deaf in Washington, DC before joining the faculty of Gallaudet University. He is currently an associate professor in the Department of Art.

For as long as Paul has been an artist, he has been interested in providing sources for and facilitating scholarly and academic discussions related to the concept that came to be known as De’VIA – Deaf Visual Image Art. In May of 1989, Johnston and Dr. Betty Miller co-facilitated a workshop at Deaf Way. In this workshop, a group of artists developed and defined the concept and name of De’VIA, creating both a written and a visual manifesto founding it. Paul has conducted other workshops, lectures, and exhibitions related to De’VIA in the United States, Canada, and England.