Drawing Autism – Jill Mullin
Autism can be linked, in the public’s mind, with maths or science and popular television representations haven’t helped to dissuade this stereotype. Mullins recognised that stereotype and put out a call for submissions of art from autistic people from around the world. The amount of responses she got stunned her and she chose a selection to put in this book.
Commonly in the media, individuals with autism have been shown to have great talents in certain areas such as science and math. The intention of this book is to display another area where individuals with autism can have great abilities.
There’s always a bit of a concern with books like this that they’re going to descend into difficult and uncomfortable to read expressions of “isn’t it so inspirational, they did this even though they’re autistic!”, and there are a few places where the wording is a bit awkward because you can tell the author is trying not to do that. I think the most important thing the author does to avoid this happening with this book is that along with including the art work, Mullins has mini questionnaires that she sent to all the people who gave her submissions. Speaking through their art was already one means of getting their voice out there, but reading what the different artists wrote about the art work as well gives an extra depth to the work.
I will draw my house. I want you to see that I am happy with the way that I am. When you see me I am always the same. I don’t change. My world doesn’t change, it does stay the same every day. And I like it a lot. My house is always the same too. I like me. And I like my life in my house.
The range of drawings is immense – from very abstract and thought provoking pieces through to photorealistic pieces. In all honesty I didn’t expect to get much out of this book because art isn’t really my thing – I’ve never had any interest in it and I don’t seek it out to marvel over. I enjoyed this book. I enjoyed seeing the ways that people expressed themselves and the end results from work that people clearly enjoyed doing.
I want to create a mysterious, beautiful image of nature. This painting is about my yearning for beauty and harmony in the world. (As a keen gardener I express the same desire in that pursuit.) The painting also depicts the relationship between flora and fauna; the natural chain, every link, depends of the other.
It’s difficult to know how to provide an indepth review for a book like this because in reality, unless you’re interested in looking at the art in it, you’re not going to get much out of it. What I do think it is though is a valuable book in showing that autistic people are as varied as any other group of people, and the ways in which they express themselves are a reflection on that variability.
Is it worth reading?
If you have any interest in arts and autism then you’ll probably love this book, other people may find it interesting to look through but I might not recommend a purchase if you can borrow it. Of course if you enjoy collecting inspiration for your own art work then this book might be good for you too.