My life as a child was filled with art. Before he became a family man, my father was a sculptor and painter, during which time he met many people who would go on to own art galleries or have their art displayed in them. Often, he would take me to the gallery parties, where I would drink sparkling apple cider and eat chocolate covered strawberries while looking at the paintings and sculptures in the galleries. That’s one of my most cherished memories of spending time with my father, and I still visit the galleries and say hello to his old friends, and look at my favourite artists’ paintings. It was a healthy mix of people Dad knew, other local artists, and world famous names like Marc Chagall.
I was too young then to know the significance of the names on the brass plates under the art. But the textures, colours, and scenes depicted helped more in my development and intellectual nourishing than any speech/other therapy I received. Books were equally important, as was music. But visual art played a role in helping me develop my sense of aesthetics, my self-soothing and stimming routines, and it allowed me to find my own creative outlet through drawing. To this day, art galleries and museums are second only to libraries in terms of “safe spaces”, a sanctuary for me when life becomes overwhelming. I can never be unhappy in an art gallery or an art museum.
I also have this habit of collecting coffee table books of artists’ works, and that remains my favourite section to browse whenever I go into a Barnes & Noble. The texture of the pages pleases me, and learning about the works of art and the artists behind them is one of my favourite ways to pass a quiet afternoon. When I was a little kid, I could spend hours quietly reading art books, absorbed in the colour, texture, and beauty of each image.
What am I trying to say here? Don’t neglect the power of art to change a life. Especially the life of an autistic person. It’s powerful.
And allow me to share some of my favourite paintings, while we are on the subject. Scroll over the picture to find the artist’s name.