Artist discovers aspects of himself and his autism through symbolic self-portraits

Aaron Eric MItchell "Sensory Flood"
Aaron Eric Mitchell "Sensory Flood"

“A self portrait is an artist being honest with himself, taking the time to go into the spotlight to try to find something they didn’t know about themselves.”  Aaron Erik Mitchell

Aaron Eric Mitchell Negative Digits
Aaron Eric Mitchell “Negative Digits”

Negative Digits is about the struggles that people with autism have with social communication and interaction. I took various pictures of my hand up against a white backdrop in order to convey the disconnect that they feel from the people around them, due to the fact that social skills have to be learnt and do not come natural to them, they can find it difficult to make friendships and relationships with people, even if they want to, they are unaware of how to do so.

The eyes looking through the small gap between the symmetrical hands is another representation of this, with the eyes looking directly at the viewer and the hands going in opposite direction displays the inability to reach out to the people around them.

The lack of other facial features such as a mouth, shows the difficultly that autistic people have with being vocal, although they struggle to express themselves through speech, they can benefit from using other forms of communication such as sign language and visual symbols, which links back to the use of hands within this piece.

Aaron Eric Mitchell "Everyday Echo"
Aaron Eric Mitchell “Everyday Echo”

Everyday Echo represents routine and repetition, which are two key things that are important for a person with autism to have, to know what is going to happen everyday, which at times can be very difficult due to the world naturally being very chaotic and unpredictable.

The four boxes are a metaphor for the daily routine that autistic people follow each day, with the stretch ones on either side of it, being a metaphor for when something doesn’t go according to plan, the box is stretch and warped to display the distortion of the perfect square boxes. (routine).

Each box is a thought.

Each box is something I must do today.

Aaron Eric MItchell "Sensory Flood"
Aaron Eric Mitchell “Sensory Flood”

Sensory Flood represents Sensory Overload although still symmetrical it is a much more hectic and manic composition than the other ones previously shown, the wires wrap around the centre of the portrait and expand outwards revealing a unplug lead.

This is to represent the inability to drain out the noises around you as the headphones that would usually be able to help you cope with this is disconnected from you.

The black and white colours are used to visually show the visual side of this, the black is overpowered by the white creating a hostile environment within the picture. The black and white is clashing for attention from the viewer, making it hard for them to focus on the whole picture.

The use of black and white is also to represent the bold perspective that people with autism can have, where they see everything in a very literal way and think people always mean exactly what they say. i.e. “seeing the world in black and white”, which neatly and systematically arranges the world in a singular way such as good versus bad.

Aaron Erik Mitchell "Beyond Imagine"
Aaron Erik Mitchell “Beyond Imagine”

Beyond Imagine is a metaphor for overthinking. Due to the fact that people with autism struggle to understand other people’s intentions and feelings, they often have to think very critically whether they are understanding the social situation correctly and whether they have done something wrong, since it isn’t apparent to them, they have to analyze and dissect the situation so much so that it can become more complicated than is needed. A simple situation or encounter can suddenly become this complex situation in their head.

This is expressed through an originally simple shape i.e. shelf, warped into a manic geometric shape.


Aaron Erik Mitchell

My name is Aaron Eric Mitchell

I live on the Isle of Wight, I’m currently a student at UCA (University of Creative Arts) studying Digital Film and Screen arts. My interest in creating art has always been present since a young age, with drawing and painting taking up a substantial amount of my time in my adolescent years, but towards the end of those years I began to explore and experiment with the possibilities within other mediums, such as photography, animation, Spoken Word Poetry, Film and Music.


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