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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Writer/Curator/Founder of The Autism Acceptance Project. Contributing Author to Between Interruptions: Thirty Women Tell the Truth About Motherhood, and Concepts of Normality by Wendy Lawson, and soon to be published Gravity Pulls You In. Writing my own book. Lecturer on autism and the media and parenting. Current graduate student Critical Disability Studies and most importantly, mother of Adam -- a new and emerging writer.

“There is no hope unmingled with fear, and no fear unmingled with hope.” -- Baruch Spinoza

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


Starry Night

Adam loves Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night. Since he was three. Morgan, his of his art "instructor" (we do art -- I'm a curator, what can I say), brings cards with various paintings and they talk about them. Adam loves to label even the more abstract ones, telling me that he has a sense of representation (symbol recognition is another way to say that). Morgan thought it would be good to begin with the impressionists. But when she pulled out Starry Night on the floor, he twisted his body and peered at it from various angles -- something he did when he reamed off his letters and numbers that were on the floor at 11 months of age. I believe the sweeping, rough, and swirling short lines (thus adding to the feeling of movment) must actually move for Adam -- the undulating night sky quivers.

Then, I saw a preview for Little Einstein. Eureka! There it was...the Rocketship swooshes into Van Gogh's sky -- the swirling starry night. Needless to say, Adam stops dead in his tracks when that preview comes on. There is this aspect of Van Gogh's art that leads me to think that theories he was autistic might be true. He created areas of flat unbroken colour -- a revolutionary approach to art-making that was viewed as crude at the time. His stark figures are outlined with dark cloisonne line against flat backgrounds or busy patterened walls that nearly distract the eye from the subject. Or consider The Night Cafe, or The Yellow Room, with seemingly distorted (but logically true) perspective, and harsh disharmonies of colour. Van Gogh "could not be taught" and therefore, was a self-taught artist. Today, he would be classified in the "Outsider Art" genre. He was later plagued with seizures, unsettled relationships, and except for a short, tumultous stint with Gauguin, lived alone.

So I have to wonder: does Van Gogh's Starry Night appeal to my little Adam for the reason that they might share a similar perception? Adam has expanded (on his own) his repertoire of painting techniques -- studying the brush and using various sides of it, and lately, splaying the paint on the paper like Jackson Pollock. So I eagerly wait and see if he can represent his experiences on paper.

When my eyes get tired these days, the outer edges of objects begin to quiver (I've made an optometrist appointment). Instead of finding it annoying (which it can be), I stop and revel in another way of seeing things.


Blogger Kristina Chew said...

Charlie has a lullaby song book from the Metropolitan Museum of Art--he got it as a baby and used to turn the pages to certain pictures, to hear me play certain songs on the piano. Starry Night was definitely in the book; he did seem to have a preference for paintings with children, mothers, fathers, human figures.

4:10 PM  
Blogger Zachary's Mommy said...

My son Zachary loves VanGogh too. He loves books and going to the book store is something he actually gets excited about. About a year ago he chose a VanGogh book- on his own and studied all the pictures. He wanted to know all the names of the paintings and was especially attracted to Starry Night. A couple of weeks ago Zachary celebrated his 5th birthday. One of the gifts he received was a VanGogh book. When he opened it he said "Another Van Gogh Book". That may not sound like much but it filled my heart with such pride and excitement. The fact that Zach used the word "another" showed that he knew he had more than one VanGogh book(he now had three) and used the word appropriately was so wonderful. Zachary also loves classical music, especially Bach and Mozart. It is so adorable when we are driving in the car and he ask for classical music. He sometimes will ask if it is Bach or Mozart. Again this is so wonderful because it shows that he is starting to use spontanious speech. Although Autism has given us many challenges and has presented a host of problems that break your heart, it has also given us the sweetest little boy who is lovable and definately has a passion for specific things (VanGogh, Classical Music and bouncing).

11:09 AM  

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