Kye and Amber
[Written hurriedly, so probably full of repetition, apologies.]
The exhibition is stunning, and a large part of that is down to Kye and Amber. The overall project lead by Mandy, Julie and Paul was cleverly structured, using the photographers and the Herbert as spurs to focus the students more and more deeply on the project. The mentors have expressed how far the students progressed in their ability to express themselves, and part of that was down to the attitude of Kye and Amber, listening seriously, taking on what the students were saying and pursuing details.
The project was in effect a community arts project, leading to a commission which created images fully up to gallery standards. Kye and Amber’s depth of engagement drove the group to think more deeply and creatively, so it is only partly true that the photographers were purely tools to bring about the students’ concepts. If that was all they did, I would regard their work as exceptional and very mature, but they were more subtly immersed in the process.
The concept of an Aspergers group is almost a contradiction in terms, so I feel everyone has had the privilege of exposure to both the individual and collective experience of living with autism.
The exhibition has a number of strengths:
. The images are clear, well executed and professionally presented
. There is a variety in form, content and voice which is rare in a show with only two photographers, and which underlines the lengths they took to represent honestly the student’s own ideas.
. It has an agenda which is placed subtly and without didacticism, and a profound authenticity which is very rare.
. It respects its visitors – the space is welcoming, the variety of form engaging and the honesty and self analysis deeply moving. Its portrayal of experiences such as fear, anxiety and isolation, connects to visitors because they are things everybody feels, but not with the same consequences.
It left me wanting more. Talking to the students revealed how those conditions they portrayed, some of which are widespread, are profoundly more debilitating for them.
I would also like more from Charlotte. Her piece made her point very strongly, but meant that she didn’t reveal other insights into how Aspergers impacts no her life. It was a microcosm of sexism in practice – because her identity as a woman with autism is so important, stating that meant that she didn’t get a voice to say anything else. Nevertheless it was a powerful lesson that I hope I’ve learned.
Be proud, it is an excellent project.
Community Exhibitions & Events Officer
Social Inclusion & Diversity Team
Coventry Heritage & Arts Trust
Herbert Art Gallery & Museum
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