I read a lot amongst neurodivergent artists this concept of "rewilding" the artist. But what if the artist is already wild? Must there be a re-?
Instead, this PhD is a research and development pilgrimage to explore and reflect on the sensory experience that is stimming within wild environment and how these wild environments can form a nurturing practice to balance and manifest peace through stimming as art practice.
One of the main barriers due to being autistic is being able to find a sustainable way to work due to the levels of anxiety, mental and physical exhaustion that we as autistic artists can experience from living in a neurotypical world.
Being autistic in a neurotypical world is not always sustainable and this is why the suicide rate is so high within our community, as well as also the employment rate so low.
The world can appear alien where everyone talks a different language and they expect me to speak that language so when I don't misunderstandings and misinterpretations can occur.
My words repeated back to me in words I have used but not words I have said.
People act differently to how I experience the world, which causes very high levels of anxiety, confusion and isolation. Into the wildness, being in wildness is where I rebalance, find trust, nurture my practice.
Making art - stimming through practice is where I am able to nourish and nurture and find calm, to sustain me for the existance in this world.
Yet, these are in addition to my daily activity each day and this takes up my time yet is essential to my wellbeing and is part of my art practice. Is my work.
In this way, my arts practice is my way of life that nurtures and sustains me through autistic stimming that provides a quilting point for an autistic artist and person. These processes when shared can be a benefit to others.
What could that look like?
The Office of National Statistics reports that 81% of non-disabled are in work, 52% of disabled are in work, only 22% of neurodivergent people are in work (2020/21). There is also a disproportionate number of those that are neurodivergent in the arts. Finding a way to peace through a solid nurturing practice must be the first step to reducing access barriers to access in the visual arts and towards the creation of wellbeing.
Outside of my PhD I am also an art psychotherapist as well as artistic researcher, both intertwine.
Making through Autistic Stimming is a test bed for me so I can explore how I can use my art-practice to nurture my wellbeing using stimmings as artistic methodology, and as a starting point.
From 2022 - 2026, I shall research, imagine and test what a neurodivergent, sustainable practice looks like, and invite through my case studies an opportunity to share this with wider and more diverse audiences.
The process will start with a survey of my paintings, I shall then progress onto small sensory experiences and develop a creative response to each while documenting the process including writing a public blog. This will document me from the inside out, a view of neurodivergence that is rarely seen. A selection of ideas will then be developed further. Finally, the whole experience will be shared at an online event for which I am partnering with DAC.
Questions to address:
How do I document my positive sensory difference; what I see and feel that is different to the mainstream?
Can I illustrate / document it with sound, movement, placement, other...?
The process will be a flowing and intuitive experience. I don't yet know what direction it will take or what will emerge other than I intend to work towards a practice of sensory calming that will inform myself and be shared with others.