Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘art’

03 MAY, 2011

Children and Established Artists Draw Autism

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What the spectrum of difference has to do with 12th-century demons and Google Earth.

Autism is one of the greatest modern mysteries of cognitive science, a highly faceted condition that remains largely misunderstood. We’ve previously explored several notable autistic outliers — British savant Stephen Wiltshire, who draws remarkable 3D panoramas of cities from memory; animal scientist Temple Grandin, who is equally well-known for her innovations in livestock herding and her autism advocacy; and autistic savant Daniel Tammet, who was able to learn Icelandic in a week, among other remarkable feats of memory. But what is the actual experience of living with autism in a deep felt sense, beyond the social stereotypes and headline-worthy superskills?

Drawing Autism, a celebration of the artistry and self-expression found in artwork by people diagnosed with autism, explores just that.

The stunning volume, with an introduction by Grandin herself, features works by more 50 international contributors, from children to established artists, that illustrate the rich multiplicity of the condition — which we hesitate to call a “disorder” as we subscribe to the different, not lesser view of autism — and the subjective experience of each autistic individual. Thanks to Will of 50 Watts for the wonderful images.

Felix: Imaginary City Map, Age 11

Who are some artists that you like?

None. I study road maps and atlases in detail and generally I scroll the full track of our trips on Google Earth.

Eleni Michael, Dancing with the Dog, 1995

Josh Peddle, Changing Seasons, 2006 (at age 12)

Vehdas Rangan: A. (India)

David Barth, Vogels (Dutch for 'birds'), 2008 (at age 10)

Emily L. Williams, Leap Years

Wil C. Kerner, Pals (collage), age 12

Wil’s grandmother explains:

The key in understanding Pals is the brown rimmed off-white donkey ear. Four facial expressions depict the bad boys turning into donkeys in the movie Pinocchio: purple-faced Pinocchio is stunned by his new ear and considering what to do; it’s too late for the horrified yellow face; the green trapezoid is oblivious to his pending fate; the blue head is looking away hoping he’s not included.”

Eric Chen, Mirror Mind poster 3, 2005

Jessica Park: The Mark Twain House with the Diamond Eclipse and Venus, 1999

Drawing Autism comes from Mark Batty Publisher — one of our favorite independent voices at the intersection of visual art and thoughtful cultural commentary, whom you may recall from The Unruly Alphabet, Drainspotting, Pioneers of Spanish Graphic Design, and Noma Bar’s fantastic Negative Space illustrations.

Images via 50 Watts

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02 MAY, 2011

Mabel Pike: Portrait of a 91-Year-Old Moccasin Maker

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What ancient beadwork has to do with the blessings of the digital age.

91-year-old Tlingit Native elder Mabel Pike learned beading when she was six and her great-grandmother taught her how to sew moccasins in the 1920s. In 1926, after their village in Douglas, Alaska burned down, Mabel’s parents moved the family to Juneau, where Mabel and her sisters began making and selling handcrafted Native wares. Mabel eventually became a Tlingit master artist, going on to teach beadwork at Stanford and pass on the traditions of her clan’s culture.

In this lovely video portrait, part of Etsy’s Handmade Portraits series, Mabel talks about the traditional patterns of her culture, her deep passion for her craft and everything it stands for, and her hate for the word “abstract.” It exudes the same kind of bittersweet poeticism you might recall from these 7 short documentaries about dying crafts, but it’s also lined with Mabel’s steady, quiet optimism.

When I finish a pair of moccasins, I sure hate to part with them. I’m not in this for money-making. I do my sewing because that’s my life, it’s always been my life, from the day I was six years old.” ~ Mabel Pike

I just lose myself in my sewing. I don’t know how to describe it. You know, when I start beading, it’s like I’m so absorbed in what I’m doing, I forget everything. I’m sewing, and I’m creating, and I’m designing. And I just don’t know how to describe it. I just lose myself in it.” ~ Mabel Pike

The way Mabel describes her work — this state of total engagement, of complete immersion — encapsulates the state renowned psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi coined as “flow,” the true mark of creativity in action.

For your daily pause moment: It’s utterly remarkable that we live in an age when online platforms like Vimeo and Etsy and Twitter and WordPress are allowing us to not only learn about the fascinating cultural heritage of ancient traditions, but to also actively support these indigenous artists in ways that would’ve never been possible a mere decade ago.

To support Mabel’s work and that of other indigenous artists, do visit Alaksa Native Arts Foundation’s online shop.

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02 MAY, 2011

Papercraft 2: Analog Creativity for the Digital Age

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Retrostalgic craft, or what analog art has to do with digital design.

Nearly two years ago, the fine folks of Gestalten brought us the exquisite Papercraft: Design and Art With Paper. Today, they’re back with a delicious, highly anticipated sequel: Papercraft 2 — a stunning anthology of exploring how designers and artists are re-discovering the analog magic of paper in the digital age. Through a showcase of groundbreaking work, the collection reveals how designers are using various techniques — cutting, folding, gluing, collaging, shredding — to craft stride-stopping visual storytelling.

In addition to the 250 pages of mesmerizing artwork, the book features a DVD of the best paper-based stop-motion, animation and music videos from the tipping point of this art form, unraveling the bleeding-edge creative potential of this age-old material.

Needless to say, given our love for creative book trailers, Papercraft 2 gets serious bonus points for the lovely video sneak peek.

Other Gestalten goodies we love: Data Flow 2, which collects seven years of data visualization eye candy in one place; Bompas and Parr: Return of the Jelly Knights, the fascinating microdocumentary about London’s jelly architects; The Story of Eames Furniture, an astounding 800-page volume 13 years in the making documenting the golden duo of modernist design.

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02 MAY, 2011

Analog Infoviz: Handmade Visualization Toolkit

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What 99 red balloons have to do with the spam economy and Lady Gaga.

We love data visualization and have a soft spot for analog art. We’ve previously explored several examples of physical data art and now, from Bogotá-based designer Jose Duarte comes this ingenious Handmade Visualization Toolkit, exploring simple ways to visualize information quickly. Using ordinary materials like chalk, string, stickers and balloons, you can experiment with various visualization techniques, from area charts to bubble graphs to — yes, you guessed it — Venn diagrams.

Using the kit, he made these lovely lo-fi visualizations of data from the 2010 State of the Internet report, revealing, among other things, that Lady Gaga is bigger on Twitter than Obama and the majority of the world’s email volume is spam.

Internet users by country

The most popular twitter accounts

Internet users 2000-2010

Spam vs. real email sent every day: 90 out of every 100 emails are spam

And it seems like Jose will send you a kit for free if you shoot him an email — what’s not to love?

via Flavorwire

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