Visual arts communicate in ways that words cannot. For Seven Days of Opening Nights, an exhibition sponsored by the FSU Autism Institute will spotlight the talents of artists who meet the challenges of autism.
“I Am Me: Artists and Autism” will be presented Feb. 8-March 31 at the FSU Museum of Fine Arts. Participating artists are clients of the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD) who come from Tallahassee, the Panhandle and Miami. Some are professional artists, some aspire to be, and some are amateur artists who have discovered that they can express their feelings through art.
At a special performance event from 6 to 8 p.m. Feb. 19, additional works of art will be displayed. In addition, several individuals will perform throughout the evening, including musicians, singers, poets and dancers. The ARTISM Ensemble will be the headliner and opening act. (ARTISM stands for “Autism: Responding Together In Sound and Movement.” The ARTISM Music Project is a federally funded program for children on the autism spectrum and their families.)
The title and philosophy of "I Am Me" are borrowed from an illustrated book by Kurtis Frank. In an artist’s statement for the exhibition Frank wrote, "To me, this story is about self. It is a story that everyone in their life must face. The feeling of isolation. The feeling of being alone. But also, the feeling of finding a friend. Of knowing that just because you are different doesn’t mean you are alone.”
The curators of the exhibition are Susan Baldino, Department of History, and Allison D. Leatzow, Autism Institute.
"As an autism consultant at FSU CARD, I interact with many of our clients directly and over time have gotten to know several extremely well," Leatzow said. "Not only do they share with me their challenges, concerns and their latest achievements, but also activities that bring them joy, most notably their love of art. Many times they share drawings or ask to sing something at the end of a group meeting. It is always my pleasure to involve them in something that seems to be so effortless for them when so much else in life is a struggle.
"Partnering with Susan Baldino, a member of the CARD Constituency Board and the parent of a CARD client, was the perfect combination, as her professional background and passion is in art history and museum studies. She helped me realize my dream of curating a stunning exhibition of art."
The Autism Institute, which is part of the FSU College of Medicine, is involved in a new $8.3 million study to measure risk and resilience factors for autism in infants and toddlers. The goal is to better understand developmental trajectories in children with autism and to improve early detection, intervention and outcomes. The Autism Institute’s project has the potential to identify autism spectrum disorders (ASD) before an obvious disability has emerged — as early as the first year of life.
The Autism Centers of Excellence (ACE) grant is one of three in the country funded by the National Institutes of Health. Florida State’s project is one of four within the ACE grant awarded to Emory University. Collaborators include Emory University, the Marcus Autism Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, the Emory University School of Medicine and the Emory University Yerkes National Primate Research Center.
Read about the Autism Institute
Learn more about Museum of Fine Arts exhibits