Autism and the art of fluidity

V-shaped 2

We [artists} impart soul and well as DNA into every single heart/felt work.

By Kimberly Gerry-Tucker

I’m presently reading these two books concurrently and as is often the case, my blog writing is inspired by what I read:

In Love With The World (A Monk’s Journey Through the Bardos of Living and Dying) by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche with Helen Tworkov: “A rare intimate account of a Buddhist monk’s near-death experience and the life-changing wisdom he gained from it.”

Underland (A Deep Time Journey)
by Robert MacFarlane: “A relationship of what lies beneath the surface of mind and space.” Everything you can imagine that dwells underground.

In the book about the monk, he mentions why tai chi works. In tai chai, he says, moving from side to side is fluid, never resistant. Because of this fluidity, the opponent’s blow has no place to land. He goes on to say that the more rigid our sense of self, the more surface we provide for life’s blows to hit. That makes so much sense!

I’m thinking how easy it is to fall into a “resistance” pattern, autistic or not, to abhor change and fight it with all fibers of our will and then when the change (be it small or large) comes, we are less ready to proactively accept and deal with it.

In the Underland book, the author carries around with him in the cave systems, an owl made of whalebone. Says he: “I slip out the whalebone owl, feel the Braille of its back, the arc of its wings, thinking of how it had taken flight from a whale’s bleached ribs. We are part mineral beings too – our teeth are reefs, our bones are stones – and there is a geology of the body as well as the land. It is mineralization – the ability to convert calcium into bone – that allows us to walk upright, to be vertebrae, to fashion the skulls that shield our brains.”

These two authors transcend the obvious awareness of what we see with our eyes. They notice details and probably are empaths by nature. No, I’d say they definitely are. In Underland, the author’s appreciation for art, his owl created from whalebone, becomes more than a talisman he carries throughout his below-ground journeys, it is something more- something symbolic and deeply felt; its origin appreciated and its form treasured.

I feel, as many empaths do, overwhelmed by others’ emotional states. I’m sensitive and need lots of alone time. I’m highly tuned, but also easily depleted. Nature replenishes me. My adult son Jeff spends lots of time alone in nature; he has had a fascination with digging for treasure for most of his life. He has come home, dirt under the nails, sweat on his brow, and backpack laden with such things as century old bottles, cast iron statues, even a plastic clown once. The other day he came home with this:

V-shaped stone

V-shaped 2

My instinct told me the inner part of the stone was soft and became eroded in this V shape which goes all the way through the rock. Nevertheless, my son and I entertained many reasons why it looked like this. Was it a hatchet? Anyway, I put its image online and one of my coworkers, whose husband happens to be a geologist, filled me in on what it is. She said:

“Hi! My husband, who’s a geologist says the ‘vee’ is an acid-dissolved fracture. (Can happen even if rain drips off of a cave wall – typical pH of 5.5-6). If you look closely, you can see the fracture where it would continue to etch out over time if it was left in the elements.”

My son refers to this rock as a “hag rock.” I like that term. Now that I know the scientific reason behind the rock, I am enamored of it all the more. I like this mystical name. Hag stones are associated with folk magic, faeries, spirits, luck, ‘gypsies,’ wicca, and also used as amulets. As I read the passage about the author’s owl created from whalebone, I couldn’t help but feel a kinship in regard to my feelings about the V Rock. Perhaps I should’ve carried a talisman, or luck object with me to the show in May. I used to carry a bolt, and a pewter cross in a yellowed hand-tatted pouch around in my pocket. Oh, and also a dirt smudged pull-string from a bare lightbulb that hung from a ceiling in a house I used to live in. Why don’t I do that anymore?

On May 30th, I represented The Art of Autism nonprofit in Dobbs Ferry NY, and showed paintings at a formal event sponsored by insurance companies. The art on display was so much larger than mine and I had never had my art priced in the four-digit range. It took a bit of convincing by the curator that I truly had a place in the show. I expressed to him that it’s like in the Wayne’s World skit when their favorite band Aerosmith shows up: “I am not worthy! I am not worthy!” He pep-talked me into believing I was.

The support I received from friends was a big boost and yet I was so resistant to this big series of changes, I forgot to be “fluid,” because as I stated earlier, quoting the book, rigidity is not a plus! But there were pluses: I got lost in the beautiful old marble-floored building and got to peek into many art studios. As Al and I unwound in the hotel room, before the show began, with his suit and my fancy pants hanging on hangers, we watched a stupid movie (two-plus hours I can’t get back). The time would’ve been better spent, decompressing in nature, even if it were just visiting a nearby tree, or walking in the rain. It’s funny how, in retrospect, one learns what one should’ve done.

Here are some pictures from the show. When we first arrived, I was struck by the beauty of the grounds with its stone steps, gazebos, fountain and paths leading to private niches surrounded by flowers and trees. The grandeur of the building is striking considering I overhead someone remark “When they purchased this building it was a hot mess.” In 1853 the building was the site of a brewing company which explains its open floor plans and sturdy stone floors. The entrance:

Entrance to exhibit

Featured Artists

Giant Cone

I saw a giant cone in the parking lot!

Panoramic of art exhibit


Al, my partner, parked near my painting, a perfect spot to hit all of the food as it came out on trays from the kitchen! 😊

Faery Sculpture


Hidden Angel


artistic jacket

I learned a lot from this show; from other artists, facts about the building, and here’s something interesting: There was a talk given on the “legacy” of artists. I would expect an insurance company representative to give this talk and I wish more people could’ve heard it. It is about respecting the legacy of the artist once a piece is purchased. How many times have I felt, as an artist, that every time something sells, my body of work becomes scattered across many states. Will the buyer tire of it and throw it away one day? Alter it in some fashion? Park the collages near direct sunlight where they will fade? The talk I listened to, suggested museum quality glass for collages, and respecting and caring for artwork which has great meaning to the creator.

I once had a wonderful Hungarian woodcarver mentor me for several years. We whiled away many hours, over several years, in his garage as he told me stories like this: “When you are wrong, walk away with your tail between your legs. But if you are right, tip over the table!” He also said something about every artist literally putting their DNA into their art. This was especially true of me, who often bled on my carvings! We really are part mineral beings. We really impart soul as well as DNA into every single heart/felt work..

When I envision my brain, I often see a ping pong ball going back and forth as a representation of the way my thoughts flit from one subject to another. That is why my writing often takes tangents. If you have followed me at all here, know that my main objective was to convey a need for slowing down. Not overthinking. Taking meditative moments when we need them, training the mind to be more fluid so blows do not have a place to land. My son allowed me to have the V Rock and it is on my shelf, treasured.

Kim Tucker

Kimberly Gerry-Tucker is an artist, QA tester, and writer. She is the author of Under The Banana Moon, living, loving, loss and aspergers/selective mutism. She resides in Connecticut with her pets and significant other Al and serves on the board for The Art of Autism.

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