Rite of Identity, a graduate thesis film, is a 2D animated visual poem of deaf children’s experiences. The film follows the protagonist’s journey in navigating a visual realm and a black-and-white realm, which represent the deaf world and the hearing world. Childhood experiences of struggling to assimilate into mainstream society are conveyed through the protagonist in the black-and-white realm. The purpose of the film is to encourage the viewers to think about what it is like for a child to be underestimated and to struggle with a soundscape that is not perceived naturally in the realm. Deaf children have a right to be in an environment where they can gain meaningful information and thrive. The film is loaded with deaf-related symbols and themes, and its story structure is distinctly shaped by American Sign Language (ASL) poetry and written poetry. ASL storytelling is intrinsic to Deaf culture, and one of its most prominent and intense forms is ASL Poetry, which is embodied in the animation form. Ultimately, Rite of Identity portrays a metamorphosis happening while navigating the two realms and discovering ourselves, which is our rite of passage. My paper will expand on the sound experiments that contributed to the technical process and will explain how my intersectional experiences, cultural storytelling, and poetry contributed to the evolution of Rite of Identity.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Animated films--Themes, motives; Deaf children--Drama; Identity (Psychology)--Drama; Deaf culture--Drama

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Film and Animation (MFA)

Department, Program, or Center

School of Film and Animation (CAD)


Vanessa Sweet

Advisor/Committee Member

Mari Jaye Blanchard

Advisor/Committee Member

Peter Murphey


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes