Celebrating Artists with Autism
It’s easy to spend time focusing on the struggles that come with being neurodivergent, but there are so many things to celebrate as well!
Living with autism, ADHD, and other unique difference can actually play an important role in creative development. There are so many neurodivergent adults out there living and thriving with autism, and we decided to spend June highlighting their successes and endeavors.
This week, we are focusing on artists with autism. We hope this list will provide you, your family, and your children some encouragement as you continue on your diagnosis and treatment journey.
A Few Artists with Autism
Morgan Harper Nichols
In this recent Bustle article, Brianna Kovan wrote a beautiful account of Morgan’s diagnosis journey. Although Morgan didn’t discover her diagnosis until adulthood, her struggles and triumphs are familiar to those that even young children experience.
In the article, Morgan shares about her day-to-day experience with autism pre-diagnosis:
“I was working overtime to keep up socially and would miss out on social cues, like the tone of someone’s voice, which would lead to a miscommunication or awkward moment,” says Harper Nichols, 31. “I would cycle through what could be wrong, like, Maybe I’m sleep-deprived or stressed. I got to a point where I was like, There’s got to be something more going on here.”
Now, Morgan is a nationally-recognized artist and writer, selling her beautiful illustrations in major retailers across the country.
Artist Anna Berry wrote a column for Disability Arts Online. Her article, How the Art World Excludes Introverts, Anna outlines the struggle of and tips for navigating the professional art world. Here’s what she says of her experience in groups:
In a group situation, I find I am something neurotypical people can’t quite quantify and, most painfully, can’t (or won’t) fully see. Yet I hide nothing. I become a sort of ghost, only half real, clinging onto the edges; and something that, whilst they can’t put their finger on it, they don’t quite trust. It happens over and over to me.
Anna continues to be an important force in the art world. Here is what Shape Arts has to say about her and her work:
She works in many media, but is most known for paper interventions. They are fragile and ephemeral, and rely on photographic recording. The practice of making them verges on the performative because of the often-absurd difficulty of placing the paper in the environment, and because of the very repetitive nature of the making.
Talking Heads frontman, David Byrne, has been blazing trails for decades. In addition to being an acclaimed musician, David Byrne lives with autism. In this article by Tom Taylor for Far Out Magazine, Byrne talked about his role in changing the public perception of autism. From the article:
“I couldn’t talk to people face to face, so I got on stage and started screaming and squealing and twitching.” This unique style was not limited to his performance on stage. It also permeates his songwriting. He stands outside of the norm and observes it without cynicism but equally without compromise. And thusly, like a musical alchemist, he has been able to make joyous pieces of pop perfection that probe deeply at the human comedy without doing anything other than extolling the beauty and illuminating the bad.
Artists with Autism Channel Their Energy Differently
Although these three artists are quite different from one another, they all have two things in common:
1. They are all neurodivergent.
2. They have found ways to channel their energy and communicate differently.
Our world would be such a less beautiful and interesting place if we were all the same. We hope you will take a moment to join us in celebration of artists with autism. Think this article might inspire somebody you know? We would love for you to send the link along!
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