Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Photographer Jane Strauss

I am continuing my presentation of powerful autistic voices, by next introducing an artist and powerful  parent advocate creating beautiful photographs while raising a neurodivergent son. I hope to be able to ask Jane to share faith, parenting an autistic child, and maintaining her focus on her work in an interview coming soon. 

Jane Strauss is a woman who makes photographic art in a way that is uniquely neurodivergent. There is a meticulous attention to detail that makes the world according to Jane rich, sharp, open, and breathtaking. Please see her photographs at janesprints or follow her fan page on Facebook here.

In her own words, here is Jane:

I have been interested in art since forever. I first picked up a camera in the late 1960s on the East Coast,
photo courtesy of the artist all rights reserved
Jane rocking braids  © Jane Strauss
when at the age of fifteen I learned to shoot and develop 35 mm black and white film. I’ve been enamored of graphic arts ever after. Since then, I have tried to be practical, pursued multiple academic courses of study, relocated to the Twin Cities in the mid-1970s, raised a family, worked with community organizations, nonprofits, and in the practice of law, before returning to my first love, art.

Before 2009, I had no formal training in digital photography, other than one course in use of Adobe Photoshop . I had very limited, informal training in the technical aspects of film photography years ago, limited to use of the darkroom for black and white film developing and printing. My formal art training consisted of general art and drawing classes in high school and at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, MA, in the 1960s.

My work has been shot with an Olympus D-SLR for the past several years. Recently, I have begun to produce more images of nature, as we spend increased time on 49 acres in the Ozarks.

My art flows from who I am, a person placed on the autistic spectrum in midlife who has often wondered why I see detail many folks miss. I look at the trees and the forest, and see the geometric shapes between and within them. I wait for the animals to settle, and come right up to them for a look. I notice small details and parts of things that for the usual person blend in with their surroundings. I look up to the sky when many would look down or straight ahead. I focus on reflections. Once images are digitized, I use Photoshop to crop, enlarge and adjust them to reflect what I saw, rarely using other aspects unless they substantially strengthen the primary image, or provide a strongly-contrasting accompanying image. 

I make images of nature, architecture, classic cars, and human artifacts.
© Jane Strauss

One of my fans puts it this way:

"Jane Strauss captures images with her camera that most of us would never take the time to look close enough to see - the detail on an old car's hood ornament, the lush growth along a flooded waterway, the frosted roses as winter approaches, and the delicate tendrils of wildgrass. Her images are sharp, crisp, and sigh-inspiring, making the viewer wonder how much beauty and detail they have missed by not looking closely enough at our environment. It is a wonderful gift to be able to see these details and hidden images through Jane's eyes. Her renderings using digital software allow her to bring certain elements to light so that what might seem to others like the simplest subject - a bird on a tree, or old tools, turns into true art."

I will be presenting a Jane Strauss original to a lucky winner during the month of June. Stay tuned to The Amplify Autistic Voices Blog for more summer beauty through autistic eyes.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Black Voices: Ondrea Marisa Robinson

Author and Autistic Self Advocate Ondrea Marisa Robinson is one of many outspoken Black Autistic Voices for Autism not well enough known in our community. She is trying to find her way among ableist and racist backlash and critics who try to diminish her accomplishments by implying she is using her impariments as a crutch. This is something we all fight each day, whether we are autistic disabilty rights advocates, or parent advocates. Ondrea's candid book about her life will be featured this month, but I wanted to introduce her to our community. Please amplify her voice and help her continue her success. Her biography in her own words:

Photo ©Ondrea Marisa Robinson
Hi. I'm Ondrea. Here is my biography:
Ondrea Marisa Robinson was born in Woonsocket, RI, on February 11, 1981. When she was three years old, she taught herself how to read and write, but she would not speak in full sentences or make eye contact. She was diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified at the age of 3, but she did not realize she had autism until she was 18 (even though she knew she was different). Even though she was very smart and loved doing school work, especially English, Computer Science, French, and Spanish, she was picked on, and she was not a happy camper at times, because some of the students and even some of the teachers were not that understanding. But thankfully, she made it to the Honor Roll every quarter during her 6th to 12th grade years (allowing her to be on the National Honor Society, graduating 22nd of her class in 1999) and attended Sawyer School for a one-year program in Business and Office Information Systems/Word Processing, graduating in October 2000 with a 3.90 (B-plus) grade point average. Then in May 2011, she obtained her Associate's Degree in Liberal Arts-English at the Community College of Rhode Island with a 3.44 (B-minus) grade point average. She is also an autism advocate, and she has spoken about her life experiences around the state of Rhode Island, including at the Community College of Rhode Island, the University of Rhode Island, and Rhode Island College. Even though she has been told by some people that she was using autism as a crutch or that she spoke about it too much or that she could be healed from autism, she has autism, but autism does not have her. 
A review of her book Living with Autism, will be coming up in before Summer's end.

This is part of a series of posts in protest of John Elder Robison's "The Myth of the Black Aspergian" two part article, in which Mr. Robison engages in speculation on the existence of people of color with Asperger's Syndrome, and further implies disturbing reasons as to why they do not seem prominent or vocal in the community. They are here with strong voices,  Mr. Robison is just not listening. 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Poet Activist Amy Sequenzia

The original version of this post was published in The Autism Wars blog and can be seen by clicking here.

The Autism Wars is hosting writers, poets, artists, photographers, actors, and musicians who are neurodivergent.  Our Facebook page will feature giveaways of their works. We are doing so in the spirit of continuing the theme of Autism Acceptance Month (celebrated this past month for more information click  here, here, and here). We hope by sharing these great talents from our community with you we will foster the principles of Paula Durbin-Westby's  International Autism Acceptance Decade, 2010-2020.  So we are very excited about our first author and activist, Amy Sequenzia. In her own words:

Amy in her creative element
I am a non-speaking autistic activist, writer and poet. I also have epilepsy and mild cerebral palsy
In 2012 I became part of the Board of Directors of Florida Alliance for Assistive Services and Technology (FAAST). I was a presenter at the conference “Reclaiming our Bodies and Minds” at Ryerson University in Toronto and at the “Hear Our Voices”, CARD Conference in Orlando, FL.
My essays have been published in blogs and websites: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism, The Shift Journal, Think Inclusive, Autism Now Center, The Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), Autism Acceptance and Spectrum – the film.

Some of my works are part of an anthology published by the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN): “Loud Hands – Autistic People, Speaking”
Some of my poems are part of a Poetry Anthology published by the Community Access to the Arts

I blog for Ollibean and The Autism Women’s Network
I have published three small books of poetry.
I like having my voice heard and I try to be a good advocate for my community

Her beautiful book of poetry was our first Rafflecopter giveaway:
Photograph of the book My Voice: Autism, Life and Dreams by Amy Christine Sequenzia

Our readers got their raffle on! Our book winner is enjoying her lovely prize.