Monday, October 22, 2012

'The Art of Autism' Illuminates the ASD Experience

For those of you reading this review who are new to the world of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), its most basic explanation is that ASD is an alteration of the nervous system, affecting the senses and communication. The condition has a litany of characteristics and never affects two people in exactly the same way. In her book The Art of Autism, Debra Hosseini takes us on a journey exploring how the presence of autism can result in the extraordinary creation of beautiful and meaningful art.

While Hosseini seeks to dispel the myth that autism reduces creativity, she mostly does not present the book from a posture of defense. Instead, she makes her case by highlighting work after work, artist after artist, and lets the results speak for themselves. The artists also speak for themselves, describing making art as a liberating experience, an expression of their true self. With their art, they don’t have to make any apologies or fit into any norm. Obsessive tics, such as tearing paper, are turned into methods of producing textured pictures. Additionally, nature, a comforting experience to many with ASD, features strongly in the creations of these artists, with animals, oceans, trees, and flowers flowing throughout.

As a mom of an ASD kiddo I love the book, clearly the art is wonderful, but that’s only the beginning for me. Flipping the pages I imagine what my son is capable of, and I know each person who sees the book will have new perspective on our kids.

I also know that this book is not limited to being enjoyed by the ASD community at large. Lovers of abstract art and expressionism will appreciate this collection, too! (Although, I suspect the artists weren’t thinking of genre at all.) The bright colors and movement in these works leap off the pages, suggesting these artists have experiences that are hyper-vivid and abstract. A painting of the metallic, Art Deco-style Chrysler Building in New York City transforms the skyscraper into a rainbow prism.

The art in these pages, just like our kids, is bold and unself-conscious, with a distinct authenticity!

In his commentary of the book, Dr. Colin Zimbleman sums it up when he writes, “Autism … offers a chance for us to glimpse an awe-filled vision of the world that might otherwise pass us by.” Not all people with autism are able to transform their sensory experiences into artwork, but those who are prove that in the art world, autism is far from a disability. It is clear that the creation of the art in this book brought great satisfaction to the artists, but it will also give great satisfaction to people without ASD, and to a great many art lovers.

Thank you, Debra and Keri, for bringing us this wonderful book.

Here is the schedule for Debra and Keri's book tour for The Art of Autism (

August 15 – Chaucer’s, Santa Barbara Book Signing, 5:00 – 7:00 PM

August 24, 2012 – Carpinteria Wine Company Abstract Art Reception, Carpinteria, 4:00 – 6:00 PM

Fall 2012 – Koegel Autism Center – TBA

September 15 – Vromans, Pasadena Book Signing, 3:00 PM

October 2012 – Curious Cup, Carpinteria Art Exhibit

October 7, 2012 – The Avocado Festival, Stage Show, Book & Comic Signings

October 11 – 13, 2012 – Texas Autism Conference, Austin, TX Presentation by Julie Coy, Debra Hosseini, and Debra Chwast

March 2013 – Mr. MusicHead, Hollywood, California, Reception March 21, Music Art

April 2013 – Seven Sisters Gallery, Morro Bay, Art of Autism Exhibit

April – May 2013 – The Good Purpose Gallery, Lee, Massachusetts, Art of Autism Exhibit

May 2013 – Curious Cup, Carpinteria and Carpinteria Art Walk, Art Exhibit, Book Signings

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