Letter to the Artists

By Craig S. Avery

When I first saw these pieces by neurodiverse artists, I had no idea what to expect or how my reactions would build into a love for their perspective, passion, and work. I was simply sent files of pieces labeled as by artists on the autism spectrum.

At first I began looking at the works as I would any other, as accomplishments to be judged using traditional criteria. Then I began looking at them with a human heart, reading the statements by some of the artists, trying to see the pieces through their own eyes; and I saw them as brave and worthy. Then I came full circle, as I saw these artists as containing many of the strengths and attributes of mainstream and traditionally enabled artists. In fact, they are both ordinary and brave, differently enabled and traditionally drawn to making art.

Each of these artists deserves a human heart to love their work. They all deserve to be seen as fully artists, whatever their mode and level of expression and accomplishment.

These artists, young and old, are both courageous and ordinary.

I can’t look at these pieces in a hierarchy of works from less worthy to more worthy. In some ways, every one of these works contains elements of growing, searching, discovering, the pleasure of completion, the love of listening to music and being absorbed by it. Each of these works comes from innocence, and each contains the culmination on paper or canvas of their experiences. In that regard, these pieces are not much different than works done by well-known, esteemed, and accomplished career artists. Many of these pieces celebrate their innocence by celebrating their reactions to music and to Mozart; they also rejoice in the experience of a finished work too.

Every one of these pieces is an accomplishment the artist should be proud of. Each contains the innocence of a new emotion and the satisfaction and experience of a completed thought. Anyone with an open heart cannot help but be moved. I would feel humbled to have been given the chance to judge these pieces.

Craig S. Avery, April 25, 2019