I’m still practicing saying that I’m autistic. In the past, identity-first language has alluded me for fear of exacerbating my experiences of alienation and misunderstanding. To avoid this scary word, and the feelings and responses it elicits, I have become skilled in the art of “masking” — I emulate body language, speech patterns, and even topics of conversation that I see around me and deem “acceptable” or “presentable.”
My artwork explores masking and the complex impact it has had on the formulation of my personhood. I seek to capture the simultaneous disconnect between and interconnectedness of my outward mask and my interiority by layering pieces of visual information atop one another and juxtaposing natural landscape with artificial colors and harsh linear language. These masks do not fully conceal but instead obscure, further complicate, and integrate with what lies beneath them.
The contradiction of these fusions also shows us how the seemingly discordant can come together as a cohesive and harmonious whole. As each layer is conceived, it transforms and is transformed by all that came before it. This transmogrification explores the ways in which each of our discrete experiences eventually come together in colorful chaos and embodies a physical interconnection of character and environment. There are moments in which figures and the spaces they exist in are indiscernible from one another, and a viewer can experience the energy of the painting environment as an inseparable part of the subject’s being.
My paintings are not just about being autistic. They explore both the beauty and difficulty human beings experience as the ‘true self’ amalgamates — we all products of our ever-changing environment, and it can be difficult to distinguish the ephemeral from the forever as we figure out who we are and what we want.