Friday, August 4, 2017

Book Review: Drawing Autism

Drawing Autism, by Jill Mullin, with a foreword by Temple Grandin, is a book full of art made by autistic people. 

I've seen several books that featured photos of families with autism, and one book that specifically focused on the pictures, and had accompanying text.  But I had not, until picking up this book, seen an art book that specifically focused on showcasing art made by autistic creators. 

Now, anyone who knows me in real life also tends to know that I am very much not an artsy person.  My drawing skill is "passable for an average middle schooler" and everything goes downhill from there.  I also have a distinct lack of patience for most visual art, which made me a great annoyance to my parents when they tried to visit art museums.  I got bored very quickly, and instead of looking at the art, I'd read my book and/or whine until we left. 

It's academic as to why that was the case when I was little.  It could have been a short attention span, low tolerance for things I didn't care about, or something else entirely.  But one explanation for the present state of things might be that it's visually overwhelming to look at artwork, just as it's visually overwhelming to look people in the eyes, and at peoples' faces, and I haven't the patience to bother with it most times.  It's a real shame eye contact is required for regular social interaction...

Anyway, this is relevant to this book, because the vast majority of this book is art.  I had to make a great effort to examine each piece in the book.  The kinds of art vary widely, as there are literally dozens of artists represented here.  There are pieces that I could've drawn in elementary school, and pieces I will literally never be able to replicate if my life depended on it.  The styles of art include whimsical 3D models, near-photographic renditions of natural landscapes, comic strips, and dizzyingly Picasso-like works. 

Accompanying each piece is some information about the artwork or the artist, as it was available.  Not all of these artists are verbal, so sometimes the caregivers answered for the artist.  I found it interesting to read these things and try to get a sense for each artist's mentality and life.  Really, though, those bits of information are the sideshow to the art. 

This is mostly not my kind of book, but it was an interesting experience, and for anyone that appreciates art, probably a valuable addition to your journey in learning about autism.

Read This Book If

You like art, and want to see autism in action through art.  There's some explanation of the various artists and the pieces included, but mainly the art is meant to stand on its own.  There are all kinds of art represented, from 3D models to markers to paints to crayons.  It seems to my uneducated eyes to be a very unique collection of works. 

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