The Museum of Fine Arts at Florida State University recently opened a new exhibition in the lower gallery titled “What Forever Feels Like.” This exhibit is composed entirely of original artwork by artists that fall somewhere on the broad Autism spectrum. Each piece of artwork holds its own significant meaning, as the art is a visual representation of each artist’s personal struggle with the disorder.
On most walls of the exhibit, three pieces are hung with enough space between them as to allow visitors to focus on one piece at a time. Underneath each piece is a small paragraph written by the artist, the artist’s family or the artist’s therapist to explain the piece as an art form, an outlet, or both, depending on the particular piece.
Looking at each art piece as a window into the mind of those with Autism makes the exhibit well worth a visit all by itself. I enjoyed being able to look at each piece and see how young children with Autism view the world or how young adults with Asperger syndrome view themselves. One exhibit that resonated with me was a series of self-portraits by Mikaela Shedt. In a series of 8 diverse pieces, Shedt drew on her internal battles with Asperger’s to create complicated self-portraits that are each distinguished by style, self-interpretation and overall emotion conveyed within. You can tell by looking at each one what Shedt was thinking about herself during the creation of the paintings. This makes her work heartbreaking, but also twice as intriguing to look at this section of the exhibition.
In other parts of the gallery, younger artists have Duct Tape wallets and model Star Trek ships in place to show the Tallahassee community that art is their ideal outlet. The small plaques underneath these kinds of entries are important for that reason specifically. Viewing the intricate details of the pieces, you can quickly see the amount of focus and dexterity budgeted by these artists who are not much different from those without the disorder.
If you get a chance to visit the MoFA, located in the Fine Arts Building right next to the Call Street parking garage, I highly recommend this exhibition as well as the rest of the museum. The exhibitions rotate frequently, and this is not one you want to miss. To see this exhibition before it is replaced with a new one, be sure to visit the museum before November 16, 2014. With any questions, you can visit www.mofa.fsu.edu or call (850)-644-6836.
by ALLISON COUCH / contributing writer