I have experienced differences with learning, understanding people and generally ‘being’ in a neurotypical world throughout my life. In 2022, I finally discovered I was autistic. Through my creative journey, I wanted to explore what it has meant to me to be diagnosed with autism. My work focuses on the strong negative then positive emotions that I experienced throughout this journey.
I was inspired to look at the human form to symbolise the ‘self.’ I studied artists who depict the self in often visceral, sometimes controversial ways. Through my research and design process, I eventually moved away from the whole human form to focus on the heart: the spiritual vessel of the ‘self.’ I made a collection of drawings, and paper and wood maquettes of both symbolic and anatomical hearts upon which to base my final designs. I experimented with, then utilised steel, copper, brass, and gold leaf in the making process to contrast and complement each other.
I deconstructed my journey into four parts: anger, alone, relief and acceptance. Before (diagnosis) exposes my feelings of ‘anger’ and ‘alone’ with a visceral, disturbing quality, to evoke a thought provoking, emotional response in the viewer. These pieces depict my sense of fractured self. Although cathartic, I found this design process and final production emotionally challenging and personally confrontative which had a negative impact on me and sent me into a vicious depressive cycle.
‘After’ begins the process of moving forward as a neurodiverse person trying to embrace their autism. ‘Relief’ is a visual depiction of my epiphany, the moment when I became complete. Like a jigsaw, when the missing piece is found. However, ‘Acceptance’ remains the most difficult, and despite being in a better place now I am still on my journey. Despite some dark days, I feel there is hope.