PODS – People of Diversity, Speaking is a project similar to HONY – Humans of New York. PODS promotes the art of storytelling and it will be an ongoing database of Recognized Diversity Acceptance.
by Kimberly Gerry-Tucker
BOD and PODS; Intro by Kimberly Gerry Tucker, (new Board of Director (BOD) member at Art of Autism); & ANNOUNCEMENT of PODS Project: Seeking Contributions
I call this short poem, “DEBUT HAIKU”
Art of Autism…
Kimberly jumps into it.
“What ideas do you have to bring to the Art of Autism?” Keri Bowers asked me. Keri and I met when she came to Connecticut in 2006 and interviewed me for her docu-film ARTS. My Shattered Image artwork was selected for the cover of Debra Muzikar’s first book: Artism, The Art Of Autism Shattering Myths.
“Give me a few days to come up with an idea,” I said, “I’m mulling over some things.” Those few days turned into a few weeks and then after being moved by a Humans of New York (HONY) post, I came up with the idea of PODS (People of Diversity, Speaking). Keri came up with the name, after I described my idea. But before I tell you about PODS, and how you can submit to the project, let me backtrack a little.
Firstly, I have to say, I love how the word “BOD” is an acronym for the term “Board of Directors.” The word BOD is an abbreviated slang for the word ‘body,’ meaning the “physical structure of things”, or used as an idiom: “as a group; together; collectively…”
I feel it is fitting that the BOD of Art of Autism now represents such a diverse group of people: Debra Muzikar, Keri Bowers, Donald Cohen, Tom Iland, Carly Fulgham, Ron Sandison, and now… (drumroll) myself. When Keri told me I was the “tipping point” at Art of Autism (AoA), I wasn’t sure I knew what that meant so she explained that the BOD members, with me included made the ratio of autistic board members on Art of Autism 4 to 3!
So let me introduce myself. I’m an author, artist and lover of insects, animals and gnomes. Some of my passions include learning about the brain, DNA, reading non-fiction, Saving Bees, Environmental protection, Spreading peace, and Autism advocacy. As an autistic adult with Selective Mutism and being a mother of an autistic son, I bring an eclectic mix of qualities to the metaphorical AoA table, and yes, sometimes the dessert spoons are missing from the place settings!
The spoon theory, as most of you know, is a disability metaphor first coined by Christine Miserandino, used to explain the reduced amount of energy available for activities of daily living and productive tasks that may result from disability. The difference between the self I am today and the self I was many years ago is this: I am continually learning as I get older, how to balance my life stuff in a SMARTer way: (warning: another acronym forthcoming!) Quality doses of the following things to the best of my ability: Stretching, Meditation, Art, Rest, Timeouts, Eating Right. I used to feel that if I couldn’t access spoons, I was ‘less than.’ I now accept that if I care properly for my self, the spoons will assuredly return in their own time. There is solace in believing and knowing this.
Note that I included art as an important part of my own personal wellness, and I am not alone in this. I know very well what it is like to have words (ideas, feelings, thoughts) that are logjammed and sink, unexpressed, never spoken audibly. Art is an important part of life for so many autistic people. Esteem, income, expressing the unexpressed, destressing, and ‘going to that sacred place’ are a few reasons for artistic expression.
That brings me to PODS. Most people have heard of “Humans of New York.” HONY is a photoblog and book that features street portraits and interviews from the streets of NYC. PODS is humbly based on HONY with utmost respect, but with a twist! It’ll focus on people of diversity who use art to express themselves.
I will send the interviewee a series of questions and request candid photo portraits. I will then choose an accompanying quote which best illustrates the photo. A link to your video (YouTube, etc.) will follow the quote, or if preferred, a link to a personal website. The end result, which will be posted in an ongoing series on the AoA website will look something like this prototype. I used myself here to illustrate how a finished submission might look on AoA’s PODS page.
Example of Kimberly Gerry-Tucker’s PODS submission
“I go to another place in my brain when I create. I know the brain reaches a theta wave state during creative expression and I know art in all its forms is a meditation of sorts. But for me, it’s even more than that; it’s necessary, especially when I’ve had high periods of social interactions or extreme stress. My spouse was enduring a terminal illness that lasted several years and eventually ALS took his life. I couldn’t go to my creative place in my head by painting artworks during this timeframe, because I was consumed with his care. So I mimed instead, around my house and as I cared for him; and mime is also art; so this worked because I was often mute and mimes don’t speak!”
At The Art of Autism, awareness of diversity, acceptance, and inclusion, are all very important to us. PODS will celebrate all of these values by letting autistic artists speak candidly about what their art means to them. We like shattering stereotypes. I can’t wait to see all the submissions. PODS will inform, enlighten, and educate with insight, talent, and unique perspectives and expressions. PODS (People of Diversity, Speaking) will show the diversity of artistic autistic people, in the same way that HONY shows ‘person-on-the-street-NY-culture.’
Autism comes in all functionality levels. People of all ages, ethnicities, and economic backgrounds create art through acting, singing, painting, writing, dancing, and more. If everyone recognized and accepted diversity, wouldn’t the whole world gain from that?
How to Submit
Those who participate in PODS will be empowered by their participation. AoA has always believed that EVERYONE’S story matters. PODS promotes the art of storytelling and it will be an ongoing database of Recognized Diversity Acceptance. Please contact me at the following e-mail, and I will be happy to answer your questions and accept your submissions:
Thanks for reading thus far. I look forward to hearing from you.
To learn more about AoA’s latest Board member, see the following links: