Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Life is just a bowl of... doorknobs?

Bowl o' Doorknobs
I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but I have a degree in counseling and worked at Mitchell's Place here in Birmingham as a one-on-one behavioral therapist for children with autism for a few years. I have also led social skills groups for teenagers with autism and Asperger's  syndrome as well as taught art classes to children and adults with various developmental disabilities. I'm telling you all this because I think that working with this population has had a profound impact not only on my art, but also in how I view the world in general. 
One of the hallmarks of the autism spectrum is a tendency to notice and be caught up in small details rather than the big picture. For example, it's not unusual to see a child with autism staring transfixed at the way the wheels move on a toy car rather than driving the car around, crashing into other cars, etc like his or her classmates. While it's important that the child learns to socialize and take part in what his or her peers are doing, I think there's also something to be learned from that attention to detail.

I don't know whether I learned to notice things like the way light shines on a brass doorknob or the way reflections change when you move your head the slightest degree from working with individuals with autism or if perhaps I already looked at the world that way and that's part of why I'm so drawn to that population. Whichever came first, I'm glad that I can get distracted by such everyday things. There are too many beautiful details in the world around us that we forget to notice.
So look around you. Notice the spiderweb right outside your kitchen window or the way your shadow looks distorted and alien. Notice the cool, pink light cast on the counter when the sun shines through a glass of juice or the way the dining room looks reflected in the bowl of your spoon. Go ahead. Be amazed. 


  1. What a beautiful post. You are indeed a special, talented girl. Your attention to detail amazes me. Having a brother with autism, I can totally relax and get caught up in the details's a wonderful way to live. Thank you for being my friend.

  2. I have to fully agree with you ... making art is exactly that: Being amazed by "insignificant" details, spending time transfixed on your subject - to crystalize the beauty, the "aura" of ... things ? Nature ? Humans ? Whatever -