(prepared by Beth Grasso, Make Studio intern)
April is an important month at Make Studio because many of our artists identify as persons with autism/autistic persons/as being “on the spectrum”. Along with many others who celebrate autism awareness and/or acceptance, we take the month of April to focus on spreading acceptance and amplifying the voices of our impacted artists.
(You can view our online version of our annual Autism Acceptance Month exhibition here.)
Artist Zach Manuel has often created art that shares his experiences and thoughts about being an autistic artist. This year, he created this piece to mark the beginning of April.
My message is that we are not defined by culture, upbringing, race, heredity, or psychological disability. The only thing that matters is what we make of ourselves.
(You can see an example of Zach’s creative process in his blog post here, reflecting his interest in exploring and narratively combining aspects of different cultures that he admires, while simultaneously addressing social issues he cares about.)
Artist Jules Hinmon shared similar sentiments about autism, saying:
Autism is an attribute, not a weakness. It doesn’t determine how you turn out. Only you can do that.
Bess Lumsden, an artist and self advocate who does a lot of art and cosplay reflecting Japanese styles and culture, is always vocal on behalf of herself and others in the disability community.
You don’t need to fix us, we’re fine, you just need to talk to us and listen!
Artist Malcolm Slade broadly concurs with his studio colleagues…
It’s a difference, not a mistake.
…as does Tyrone Weedon:
Autism is just a learning process for people with disability, and it came from a different degree some times it can be slow and sometimes it can be faster, as long as you have a big support system as well as your friends and family, they can handle thing from the outside independently. Just help them.
Gary Schmedes, who has often related his experience of having autism to his preference for routines and co-creating a productive and safe workplace with his fellow artists, sent us this drawing he made while working at home during this time of social distancing:
Gary reminds us that we all miss the things we are familiar with during this time of quarantine and that we will be excited to be able to meet again in person. In the meantime, we are glad that we have opportunities to continue to build digital communities and support each other.
– Beth Grasso