My Hope is that my Flying Blind Sculpture will Raise Awareness about Neurodiversity and Social Barriers

Ryan Smoluk Flying Blind
Ryan Smoluk "Flying Blind" Photo by Jenel Shaw

It’s hard to believe that the Covid saga goes on, and we are still on full lockdown here in Manitoba. The isolation has been so difficult for so many people. Having autism has its perks, for me life has gone on pretty much the same. I just stay focused and continue to create lots of new art. Now when the museum of modern art in New York phones me I will have all the artwork ready to go!

By Ryan Smoluk

I often think about a concept for years before I actually create it. Fortunately for me I have a very strong visual conceptual memory. It’s a useful quality to have, if you are an artist.

Ryan Smoluk Flying Bird
Ryan Smoluk Flying Blind Photo by Jenel Shaw

I made the Flying Blind sculpture last year while we were in full lockdown. It was a very complicated piece to make.

The body of the sculpture is made of clay. The mixed medium consists of: wood, clay, plastic, glass, paint, and steel. I acquired some actual steel instrument parts from a real airplane cockpit, which I incorporated into the piece.

Ryan Smoluk Flying Blind Bculpture Detail
Ryan Smoluk Flying Blind Sculpture Detail
Ryan Smoluk Flying Blind Sculpture Detail
Ryan Smoluk Flying Blind Sculpture Detail

Aviation Inspiration

Ryan Smoluk in a Plane

I had the good fortune of meeting with an aviation expert Joe, a pilot who just happens to be a flight simulator instructor.

Joe so kindly invited me to join him in the Red Bird, a very rare piece of flight simulator equipment in the province. He explained a lot about the history of aviation, which I am a huge fan. The experience of flying in the simulator was just like flying in a real plane it was so surreal. It was the highlight of my year.

With the knowledge I have learned from the flight simulator I now realize that I will have to hire a videographer to produce a short film to accompany the sculpture.

I wanted to viewer to be taken on a journey, to experience a wide range of emotions. The video images vacillate between a series of events from “please stand by,” test patterns, through turbulence – shattering glass and a brick wall landing.

Ryan Smoluk Flying Blind
Ryan Smoluk Flying Blind Detail

As an artist you can’t do everything. I struggled trying to make a wooden frame for this sculpture. Long story short sometimes you have to phone a friend.

I phoned my buddy Bruce, a carpenter instructor at MITT. (Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology) I am a proud graduate of MITT from their computer graphics program. They have always been so supportive of my artwork and career even now years later.

Neurodiversity

My hope is that Flying Blind will help raise the consciousness for those that struggle with neurodiversity, social barriers and biological challenges.

Last year one of my earlier paintings (The Path) made the front cover artwork for the book “Autistic Community and the Neurodiversity Movement,” edited by Steven K. Kapp. I was impressed by this book, its very interesting and informative. I felt honoured that they selected my artwork for the cover.

Nick Walker explains the concept of neurodiversity the best.

Neurodiversity is the diversity of the human brain and mind.

We are all just wired differently. I am not a writer I am an artist I express my thoughts through my art and I use my life experiences to draw on. If people like my art then I am happy.

I like the use of humour, sometimes dark depending on the project. Often I offer political commentary and fit it in somewhere between the art, with the hope it will spark a reaction or a dialogue in the audience.

Thanks to Manitoba Art Council who awarded me an art grant which allows me to stay in my studio space for another year and buy enough art supplies for my next project. I feel so grateful that the M.A.C have supported me and value my art, I really do try to produce artwork that is different and original. Being awarded an art grant is true validation to any artist.

Thanks also to Arts AccessAbility Network Manitoba who displayed my art in an online solo exhibit titled “We are Not Amused.” It is a series of comical animal paintings all dressed up in costumes.

We Are Not Amused

While so many galleries are closed to the public right now, some have been forced to have their exhibitions on-line. Having said that more and more people are becoming interested in the art world (that’s a good thing)

Ryan Smoluk

Currently I am creating a new series of paintings called “All Without Words”

The music album is written by composer Justin Morell and recorded by Grammy-winning trumpet soloist John Daversa with the Henry Mancini Orchestra and choir. The music album is built around a theme vocalized by Justin’s son Loren who has autism.

There is going to be a premier opening event scheduled for Oct. 2, 2021 in Miami. This project is an artist’s dream. I listen to the most amazing jazz music and paint how it makes me feel and how I interpret the music. How cool is that? I will keep you posted!

See the story about how the Art of Autism participated in this project here.

Ryan Smoluk in his studio

Ryan Smoluk has a Fine Arts Degree from the University of Manitoba and has been awarded many grants with the Manitoba Art Council, the Winnipeg Art Council, and the Canada Council for the Arts.

Ryan is an active supporter of Artbeat Studio, teaching art workshops and mentoring other struggling artists. Visit www.ryansmoluk.ca.

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