The first time I ever came to the AANE office, it was to participate in a painting workshop. It was there that I saw a copy of “Seeing with a Different Eye,” the catalog of the art exhibit from fall 2007 Asperger Connections Conference. I vowed to get some of my art into the next event, and my work was included in the fall 2009 exhibit. As a result I learned about the Artists Collaborative, and I’ve been coming to meetings regularly.
With the AANE Gallery and website, artists now have visibility and a way to sell our work, and opportunities to learn about the business end of things. Even more important, we, the artists, are getting an opportunity to grow: to build up and show off some of our unique but often unseen strengths and essences. We have all heard that there is strength in numbers; I think we are starting to find the kind of strength that comes from people complementing and enriching each other.
A spirit of appreciation and cooperation
Our group is very eclectic, containing people of many ages and backgrounds; our art covers a wide spectrum of media and styles. We have many different perspectives and ideas, and a variety of personal issues, strengths, and challenges. But I find the atmosphere when we get together very different from what one might expect of a group of artists. It’s clear we all really care about the group and I don’t think it’s a selfish care, a “What can I get out it?” attitude. I don’t see competition. I don’t see people focusing on “their own thing.” I see people respecting, supporting, encouraging, and listening to others with care and appreciation. I see people readily giving of themselves: offering to help, teach, bring, assist etc. New work from each artist is thoughtfully viewed and appreciated. New people are always warmly welcomed. There’s never a shortage of volunteers. Everyone gives what he or she can, and contributions of all sizes are recognized as being equal. So why is that?
Maybe it’s because each of us struggles every day. We each have our own mountains to climb. Maybe that makes people more willing to make way, or lend an ear or a hand. Maybe it’s because we’re autistic or Asperger’s—with our different view or “wiring.” Or maybe it’s just the way all people are supposed to act—but rarely do. I’m not sure. But something is making us all shine a little brighter. In the last year I have noticed that people seem more at ease and at home when we get together. We are becoming a family of artists.
Interested in viewing additional art?
Art-lovers can see and purchase artwork on display year-round in the AANE Gallery in our Watertown, Massachusetts office during regular business hours, by appointment, or online any time.
Interested in joining the AANE Artists’ collaborative?
The AANE Artist’s Collaborative gathers artists 18 years of age and older, who have Asperger Syndrome or related autism spectrum conditions. Artists meet monthly to exchange ideas and promote their artwork. If you would like to learn about participating in the AANE Artists’ Collaborative or exhibiting in the AANE Gallery, please contact Tonya White at 617-393-3824 ext. 44, or Tonya.White@aane.org.