Using Visual Art as a platform "Portraits of Autism" seeks to create social awareness while opening up a discussion about available support systems and funding for families caring for both children and adults diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The focus of each portrait is to bring awareness to autism as well as to provide an emotional experience and public connection to each subject as a unique individual who is not only defined by their “disability”.
According to recent statistics Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disorder in the US. About 1 in 59 children in the U.S. has autism, according to data released April 27, 2018 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Although there have been significant advances made in recent years, there is a tendency in our society toward a lack of representation or misrepresentation of people with disabilities in the media including the arts. Where the media holds a high level of influence over the perceptions of the general public, an under-representation or mis-representation of disabled people has large social implications. The immediacy of an image can convey information rather quickly giving concrete shape to something that might other wise be intangible.
The portraits relating to this project are large scale oils on canvas currently ranging in size from 36x48” to 48x60” and are based on imagery provided as reference material by each family through social media sources or other forms of communication. Each series of portraits are part of a larger narrative including writing, editorials and poetry written by the subject, family member or caregiver. The story is told on a continuum through their experience. The project follows each family as they continue to make individual decisions on what is best for their child's future - often with very limited resources.
For many families raising a child on the spectrum there is a persistent fear and concern for their child’s future. This becomes increasingly disconcerting as parents begin to look at the reality of what may happen when they are no longer alive or become incapable of caring for them. Small children are the public face of autism, their appeal helping to win public understanding and educational support.
Will there be public support for them as adults?