Children and Established Artists Draw Their Autism

More

In Drawing Autism, works of art offer visions of the world that their creators often are unable to communicate

drawingautism6edit.jpg
Autism is one of the greatest modern mysteries of cognitive science, a multifaceted condition that remains largely misunderstood. I've previously explored several notable autistic outliers—British savant Stephen Wiltshire, who draws remarkable 3D panoramas of cities from memory; animal scientist Temple Grandin, who is equally well-known for her innovations in livestock herding and her autism advocacy; and autistic savant Daniel Tammet, who was able to learn Icelandic in a week, among other remarkable feats of memory. But what is the actual experience of living with autism in a deep-felt sense, beyond the social stereotypes and headline-worthy superskills? Drawing Autism, a celebration of the artistry and self-expression found in artwork by people diagnosed with autism, explores just that.

The stunning volume, with an introduction by Grandin herself, features works by more 50 international contributors, from children to established artists, that illustrate the rich multiplicity of the condition -- which we hesitate to call a "disorder" as we subscribe to the different, not lesser view of autism -- and the subjective experience of each autistic individual. Thanks to Will of 50 Watts for the wonderful images.

autism8.jpg

"Who are some artists that you like?"

"None. I study road maps and atlases in detail and generally I scroll the full track of our trips on Google Earth."

autism7.jpg

autism6.jpg

autism5.jpg

autism4.jpg

autism3.jpg

autism2.jpg

"This is a small portion of a larger piece that's yet to be completed. The larger piece is one of three in a series, focusing symbolically on psychiatric units, utilizing Hell as an analogy. The demons in the piece were inspired by 12th century works depicting Hell and the Final Judgment. The piece was also inspired by some of my own hospital stays in the past. While I was never a suicide risk, I always found it odd that none of the patients could have any of the items listed in the title of this piece. I understood the logic and the risk to suicidal patients, but nevertheless still found it strange to be walking around in shoes with their tongues hanging out or to have unshaven legs."

autism1.jpg

Drawing Autism comes from Mark Batty Publisher—one of my favorite independent voices at the intersection of visual art and thoughtful cultural commentary, whom you may recall from The Unruly Alphabet, Drainspotting, Pioneers of Spanish Graphic Design, and Noma Bar's fantastic Negative Space illustrations.


This post also appears on Brain Pickings.
Images: Mark Batty Publisher

Jump to comments
Presented by

Maria Popova is the editor of Brain Pickings. She writes for Wired UK and GOOD, and is an MIT Futures of Entertainment Fellow.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Entertainment

Just In