As I’m writing this post I currently have over 50 responses for my latest art project, which is wildly above what I expected for such a short time looking for responses so thank you. The autistic online community has really come through and provided me with some incredibly sad but useful responses for a series of paintings.
I wanted to take a moment to express why this project is important to me and why I wanted the feedback I received from other autistic adults like myself. An alarming amount of autistic adults struggle with their mental health and I’m no exception to this. For the past 10 years of my life I have battled depression, anxiety and paranoia and have made it part of my artwork to help visualise that experience and share it. I share and sell my work across social media and in doing so I have been part of a wide community, especially on Twitter.
During this time I have seen a lot of people express how they are misunderstood or even labelled as something they initially hadn’t thought. I knew personally that I weaponize a lot of words that been used to judge my character and that is the ammo I used to bring myself down. As time has passed it has been apparent that I’m not the only one who displays this behaviour and others also cling onto those statements, phrases and words and hold them dear.
As part of my diagnosis report there was one statement that still affects me to this day. I understand that this statement was used in a medical pretext but none the less it has made me aware of how I come across. That statement was that I’m pedantic. It’s not necessarily used in a nasty way but it has made me aware of when I’m excited about a subject I can talk for too long. I now often stifle my enthusiasm and cut it short so that I don’t annoy people and can fit in that little bit better. [When I say fitting in I don’t refer to my appearance but more of how I act so that it doesn’t complicate life outside of the house.]
That single term has stayed with me ever since and joined all of its other nasty friends in my mind and festers away. As I mentioned before I’m not alone in holding onto these statements so I pondered on how I could incorporate this into my art while creating something new and unique while keeping the concept of the anxiety monster as a visual. One happy accident later I discovered that I could use press printing with the acrylic inks rather effectively so an idea started to bubble and grow in my mind.
The concept I wanted to work with was these statements feeding and becoming the very centre of these creatures that I call the anxiety monsters. Mental health isn’t always a pretty subject but my works visual elements makes it more accessible and can be used as a platform to discuss its issues. The autistic community is often spoken for by nuerotypicals who don’t experience life on the spectrum first hand and I wanted this to be a way that I could involve others.
I decided on seeking statements from others that affected them as mine had affected me to use it as a platform to discuss mental health on the spectrum from those who live it and not from an outsiders perspective. I also want this to help raise awareness to the autistic community and what they are wanting and that is to be listened to. They don’t wish to be talked about but rather would speak for themselves and I want this collaboration to be a voice for us all. Working visually has worked in the past when it came to my last collaborative project and helped to raise awareness during mental health week.
This continued support has enabled me to continue my business and to help raise money for autism and mental health charities along the way. This project is important to me because I want this to become something more than just a series of paintings. I want it to be the voice of the autistic community that wants to be listened to.