ISSUE BLUE: Autism and creative approaches

Page 1

ISSUE BLUE

ISSN CANADA: 2369-0313

A U T I S M A N D C R E A T I V E A P P R O A C H E S

APRIL 2022


DONATE CLICK HERE

ASPIS RENCONTRES All donations received for this issue will be entirely donated to this non-profit organization, located in Quebec, whose mission is to organize weekly meetings between autistic people, their spouses and families. These meetings are open and conducive to exchanges and participation in board games.


Team Publishing director Managing editor Editors-in-Chief

Writers

Reviewers

Translators

Graphic Designers

Angélique Marguerite Berthe Diène Adrienne Sauriol Estelle Wallis Janaina De Oliveira Laura Bonnieu Lucie Brejsova Adrien Di Nicola Adrienne Sauriol Chiara Jacazzi Chloé Castanheira Constance Lemaire Enola Tiertant Laura Bonnieu Adrienne Sauriol Ambrine Djouzi Estelle Wallis Janaina De Oliveira Jeanne Gignoux Laura Bonnieu Lucie Brejsova Mariama Barthes Mboup Matthias Gray Monique Duc Olivia Moran Adrienne Sauriol Coline Priyono Estelle Wallis Janaina De Oliveira Jeanne Gignoux Matthias Gray Philomena Ojukwu Angélique Marguerite Berthe Diène Laura Bonnieu.


En couverture Cover : Photograph by Valérie Jessica Laporte

R Magazine is a not-for-profit organization registered with Corporations Canada under number: 788691608RC0001 and Registraire des entreprises du Québec under number: 1176873918


Travelling through the autistic universe

Since I worked in an inclusive school board my whole career, I met and taught dozens of children and teenagers on the autism spectrum. I tried to understand their learning and communication patterns so they would be comfortable in my classroom. I did not always succeed. I met children who were very creative. Most of the time, they would express it through art and writing. The way they perceive the world surrounding them is fascinating if you take the time to see it through their eyes and listen to what they have to say. More and more, we hear about autism on television and in the newspapers. Artists from all over the world have been “coming out”. Just to name a few; stand-up comedians Louis T from Québec, Belgian Florence Mendez, Australian Hannah Gadsby (also an actress), and theatre director Serge Denoncourt.

ISSUE BLUE

|

5


The autistic artists appearing in this month's magazine started creating from a very young age, and by doing this, they are sharing their vision of the world through music, photography, drawing, painting, writing and much more. Most of them have something in common: the fact that they were diagnosed with autism as adults. I talked with Dre Marie-Hélène Prud’homme to have a better understanding of what motivates them to get this diagnosis. Dre Prud’homme told me that more than half of the clientele waiting for a diagnosis are adults. Ten years ago, they were more than forty years old, now they are in their thirties and even in their twenties. The more that information appears about it on any media, the more people are asking themselves questions. But who are these people who are questioning themselves? The first category are the ones influenced by what they read or see about autism. Then you have the people that, even with a superior intellect, cannot keep a job or stay in a stable relationship. There are also those who receive a diagnosis for their child and see themselves in the description. There are also people that were advised by friends or someone they know to get an evaluation. During this autism awareness month, please take the time to get acquainted with these autistic artists, artisans and creators. Their artistic universe will touch you in many ways. Here is an excerpt of a short play I wrote to raise awareness concerning autism many years ago when I was directing the theatre group “La Galère”.

ISSUE BLUE

|

6


Excerpt of “Code 50”

You are asking me what you have come here to see. It will not be dictatorial, I promise you. Besides, how can I preach something I do not know? You are surely wondering if I’m here to speak of myself. Well, maybe a little. The person you see before you is not a teacher but an actress. Quite practical to be able to combine both! In passing, do you even know what an actress is? She is someone who engrosses herself in emotions and in a life she has never led. She takes in a multitude of feelings and, in turn, builds upon them. She understands the intentions and preoccupations of others to the point of being able to mirror them. If she is successful, she will make you believe that the person you are watching is someone other than herself. It is at this precise moment that you should understand what you are doing here. Evidently, the teacher depicted in this play was someone who, above all else, was touched by the children she encountered. The teacher within her did not always know how to meet their needs but the actress tried. It was she who involved herself in their inner world – a world filled with vibrant colour, evident only to those who engross themselves within it. Surely, you have heard of the story of St-Exupery’s “Petit Prince” and the people he touched on his journeys. Like the little prince, these children have touched me. Their inner world is truly an undiscovered and conflicting planet - as fragile as a rose yet with roots as strong as the baobab. Thus, in turn, as I explored these planets, the children became my own little princes. If you allow yourself to be open to this voyage, they will change your life forever.

Adrienne Sauriol

ISSUE BLUE

|

7


5

Contents

EDITO Travelling through the autistic universe

10

PORTRAIT

14

PAINTING

Adrien Di Nicola Writer for R Magazine

Sandrine Lebrun The Mandango’s adventure Mady Arts A real jack of all trades

22 DRAWING & ILLUSTRATION Corentin Hunter Interview with the author and illustrator Remrov | Casey Vorner An expert in photorealistic drawing A voice for non-verbal autism Paya’s world | Valérie Picotte Animals, pastels and other wonders Kaitrin Beechy an eye for detail

40 LITERATURE Mélissa Perron Mélanie Ouimet Neurodiversity: Intelligence in all its forms Ann May | Annyck Martin Researcher and designer, she raises awareness of female autism Brigitte Harrison Autism explained to the non-autistic Paul Couture and the need to create Sylvain Bernier The Nesting Artist Valérie Cloutier-Cadieux All smiles and words

68 PHOTOGRAPHY

Lucila Guerrero A multifaceted autistic artist Valérie-Jessica Laporte Through the camera lens Iris Martinez Interview with "the many facets" Iman Chaïr An artist in senses and colors

CINEMA

85 Louis’ Shoes

Autism with humour and emotion

MUSIC 88 Virgie | Virginie Poirier and the “in-between worlds”

INVOLVEMENT

92 Élise Pilote

Inspiring and committed within Quebec institutions

FOLDING

95 Éric Vigier

The Mad Folder


AUTISTIC ARTISTIC A LETTER OF DIFFERENCE

ISSUE BLUE

|

9


PORTRAIT

ADRIEN DI NICOLA WRITER FOR R MAGAZINE

GOOD MORNING THE FUN PART ABOUT WRITING FOR A MAGAZINE COLLABORATING WITH MANY OF ITS AUTHORSACROSS THE PLANET IS THAT YOU ARE MOST LIKELY TO RECEIVE INCREDIBLE AMOUNTS OF MESSAGES WHEN TURNING YOUR PHONE ON IN THE MORNING. THE MOST FREQUENT NOTIFICATIONS CAME FOR MOST FROM ADRIEN, PROPELLING ME INTO REALITY WITH A “GOOD MORNING WITH A SMILEY FACE EMOJI” MESSAGE TO THE TEAM. ISSUE BLUE

|

10


R MAGAZINE

HIS INVOLVEMENT

Adrien has been an editor and reviewer for almost two years now. In fact, Adrien was looking to start volunteering (remotely if possible) “to keep his mind busy. and creative. This is how he first came across the magazine’s offers on www.benevole.fr. To fulfill his interest, he learned more about the magazine and found out their values matched his needs. He considered all the opportunities of collaboration with this organization, journalism for instance sounded like the right place for him to upgrade his skills. Adrien has great pleasure to share with us his experience at R Magazine : “I am an editor who writes on numerous topics, especially about artists. I'm also a member of the social and environmental responsibility committee at R Magazine. I will soon start a sport column with Chloé Castanheira about athletes’ personal journey and their sports’ habits, highlighting the Rugby’s World Cup in 2023 as well as the Olympics games in 2024. We want to focus on the French teams but would like to have athletes coming from other countries, as Canada”. Adrien also writes articles focused on literary works or art exhibitions. In fact, he wrote an article dealing with the remote exhibition about Jean Starobinski, a literary critique and doctor from Geneva, Switzerland.

Adrien enjoys learning and investigating in deep the many topics of his articles. As a master’s degree holder in French and comparative literature from Strasbourg’s University, he admits that it “gave him a real legitimacy and sense of freedom in his own writing”. Having been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and ADHD does not make things easy for him. Something which usually takes 1 hour for someone else can take him up to 2 hours. Let's does not forget that one of the characteristics of a person with Asperger’s Syndrome is “perfectionism”.

ISSUE BLUE

|

11


R MAGAZINE

HIS DIAGNOSIS Diagnosed at age of 31, he does not understand how it took so long for doctors to recommend him a psychiatric assessment. “I speak a lot, but when I am under pressure, I withdraw into myself”. Only then did he come to better understanding the reasons for some of his reactions facing certain situations, although he still asks himself why he was not diagnosed earlier. Born with a physical disability caused by a lack of oxygen at birth, he struggled to find his path through the frequent push back by children of his age, and always felt more comfortable with adults. Besides, the other children regularly criticized his mature way of speaking. “I had existential questions when I was 14-15 years old. I was the only one to think that way”.

HIS EDUCATION The only possibility for him to pursue his education was at a boarding school. “I had to fight for respect. I’ve also learned what social misery was. French education is not suited to the real needs of disadvantaged youth, trying to earn their place. I come from a middleclass family, but I received a good education in private school. Thanks to my Asperger’s Syndrome, I ended up being more successful throughout my educational path”. Adrien is interested in a more inclusive education and believes that the French system is too rigid. “I have not yet interviewed someone with Autism, because I do not feel comfortable enough to write about it now”, he says.

Thank you, Adrien, for agreeing to be my interviewee. See you tomorrow morning!

ADRIENNE SAURIOL

Meanwhile, he writes interesting and well documented reviews. He consistently encourages others around him and always welcomes them warmly.

ISSUE BLUE

|

12


AUTISME, LA BOÎTE À OUTILS

IT IS THE OPENNESS TO DIFFERENCE THAT MUST BE CHANGED, NOT THE PEOPLE WHO ARE DIFFERENT.

ISSUE BLUE

|

13


PAINTING SANDRINE

THE MANDANGO’S ADVENTURE

LEBRUN

ISSUE BLUE

|

14


“Mandango was born in 2008 when I decided to let the painting come to me, rather than me coming to it. I then begun to arbitrarily lay texture and natural elements (such as rocks, feathers, barks, shells…) on the canvas. Once the canvas is arranged, it hangs on the wall as it is, until I see a shape emerging from the interlacing. This shape inspires me a color, which then brings movement and rhythm... So, I never know in advance what will emerge from the canvas, or what the final result will be. It is a succession of interactions which leads to the making of a product, only then does it come to be named. It is a communication. Mandango:

It is the opened door towards the universe and oneself.”

Sandrine Lebrun

Sandrine Lebrun talks about her journey with a lot of honesty and lucidity. For a very long time, she was caught up in the representation of herself that the people around her wanted to see, and she camouflaged away her differences. She was afraid it may “harm her career”. Until the day her entire being rebelled and fell into a deep depression. After further educating herself through books and professional training, Sandrine did some self-screening and contacted Dr Isabelle Hénault with whom she had followed one of these trainings. Thus at age 46 she could finally put a word in the thing that made her different: Autism. From the outset, she had attempted to be someone she was not. Now, she can be herself. “My diagnosis has been embraced with great kindness and openness from my co-workers and my friends. It seemed obvious for everyone to accept and embrace my own particularities, but also my strengths” she confides.

ISSUE BLUE

|

15


R MAGAZINE

A few years ago, she felt freer in her painting, but still kept her artworks hided. Why? “Well, because my paintings did not look like any other artworks. My creations had nothing to do with the ones I had seen before, (and I had seen many) in museums and art galleries all over the world” she says.

She recovered and started to prioritize herself. The paintings, which had been hidden until now, started to slowly appear. Sandrine was able to spread her message: “Mandango”. A first exhibition occurred in 2013. Painting has an important place in her life, it is a need for her, because it allows her to communicate without feeling the need to “change to be understood”. A book followed in 2015, L’autisme apprivoisé , published the same year by the Olographes editions.

She would like neurotypicals to understand the numerous efforts individuals with autism have to do to constantly adapt themselves in order for them to be “understood by others”. She would like that we consider, “with an open mind, the diversity which exist within neurodiversity”. “And I also would like that, at the same time, they comprehend that every person diagnosed with Autism is different, like every neurotypical person. Our vision of the world is different from yours, but it is complementary and enriching. Take the time to listen to us and to discuss with us, and you will surely discover it!” This is a message that should resonate with the need to be accepted for who you are without always having to meet expectations and specific criteria.

ADRIENNE SAURIOL

ISSUE BLUE

|

16


Mady ARTS

A real jack of all trades Painting, music, photography, writing

MADY-ART

ISSUE BLUE

|

17


R MAGAZINE

Great softness and sensibility

S

ince I was little, I have been writing poetry, composing

music, singing, drawing and making paintings. Music is for moments when I have emotions to express, to make me

feel good. Painting is about travelling in other dimensions. Writing is also how I feel, but with words, I like what I do to be moving I love that the things I do touch people. I want people to feel their own emotions because of my work. That’s how I work now, I do it full time: my creation. I started making music and drawing when I was four years old to express myself. Now that I am an adult, I need it to be able to manage my life, I understand the world through my art and without creations, it doesn’t work,

ISSUE BLUE

|

18


R MAGAZINE

sharing and inclusion

Her paintings are fluid; they take us on an interesting journey, often immersed in the world of whales. So, we asked her where her fascination with this mammal came from. “I had my first contact with whales when I was nine years old. One morning, I discovered a stranded calf. It changed my life. I asked my father to warn the parents of the other children so that they could explain to them not to jump on his belly, because we had to honor its corpse and not touch it. He had just died and therefore we had to accompany it. The whales were roaming around my father’s sailboat, he said they did this in order to socialize with us. Now, the whales and I work together: I channel their being via a kind of connection through which information passes, a kind of visual telepathy. When I create my paintings, I see other time-spaces, universes, landscapes, dead people appear. And that, is my job. I paint with my fingers to bring out the beings which appeared. To sum up, for me painting is a communication between my consciousness and my heart with the invisible waves. The canvas becomes the result of this conversation”.

Mady sees her art as a space where we share, something very inclusive: “My art is the people when they look at what I do, it’s their story because we all have different tastes. If a person travels in their own way when they watch or listen to what I do, then I succeeded. It’s not about what I think when I paint, but rather what the person will get out of it”, she says.

This artist makes her own paint. She always uses the same nine pure pigments: three blues, one orange, one yellow, one green, one white and two browns. These colors are derived from it. In addition to these colors metallic paint and celestial gold mica powder are used for the final touch. “I paint by transparency, by layers and often with my eyes closed, according to my needs to see or not, and just feel”. Her musical universe is also impregnated with this sensitivity to what surrounds her, she speaks to each of us. She wants people to be interested in the differences in others only because each person is unique. When she was diagnosed, she wanted to understand how other people with Asperger’s functioned. According to her, we should look into other’s daily lives in order to know them better. She is proud to be part of a group like Aut’créatifs, because she admires the artists members and thinks that this organisation gives visibility to people with autism in a positive way.

ISSUE BLUE

|

19


ISSUE BLUE

| 20


R MAGAZINE

Never without projects Mady is very present on social networks. By the way, you can see some of her works and have an idea of the music she created. She also created the Tawa art website which is a virtual museum of autistic artists. She is also co-producer for Lavigne Music Records and Publishing.

ADRIENNE SAURIOL

ISSUE BLUE

| 21


DRAWING & ILLUSTRATION

Corentin Hunter

AUTHOR & ILLUSTRATOR ISSUE BLUE

| 22


R MAGAZINE

Interview Corentin Hunter talks about his life and journey as a man and artist with Asperger's syndrome. He takes us into his world, painted with dreams, ambition, creativity and black and white "Cogs." His book, Aspie Encré , cannot leave you indifferent, because in addition to teaching more about Asperger's syndrome, it is authentic, poetic and incredibly human.

Art

Where does your passion for drawing come from? Do you have an educational background in art? How long have you been practising?

For as long as I can remember, I have always drawn. At first as a traditional means of communication and expressiveness, this language ended up following me, until it became for a while my main one. Many years later, I realised that this art helped me to channel my greatest relentlessness: an insatiable, almost desperate need to express everything, to archive everything in me. My dreams, my passions, my nightmares, everything had to be bottled up, like collectible insects. On the one hand, it allowed me to externalise my emotions and torments, to lay them out in front of me, so that I could see the whole picture and not be overwhelmed by them, or to lock certain "evil genies" in their lamps. On the other hand, my collecting side delighted in accumulating memories and interests like treasures in a cave. I studied animation at Cégep du VieuxMontréal, where I studied many techniques, including perspective, design and networking, but especially storytelling. I started out as a freelance commercial illustrator and then worked my way up to animation studios in Montreal, first as an animator and then as a team supervisor. In recent years, I have taken a step back to focus more and more on personal projects and contracts that are more focused on my specific art.

Where do you get your inspiration (themes, artists, etc.)?

In nature, in music, in my dreams and memories, but especially in video games. I grew up side by side, almost in symbiosis, with this medium, not as a competitor but as an explorer. The world of games, like novels, is rich in escape and identity. These worlds served as a "bridge" between the real world and my own, helping me to make the transition. Today, I like to illustrate these universes, to enlarge them and to be inspired by them for new ones. In fact, I have future projects, of a fairly large scale, relating to these universes. You have launched several participatory projects. What do you like about this style of contribution?

I like to encourage people to express themselves and show them new perspectives of their own experiences. Besides my own stories, they also have many to tell. And these stories make them surround themselves with people who have similar stories, which sets off an ever-growing spiral. Can you tell us about your recent project: #6fanarts?

Fanart is, in my opinion, an effective method of reaching new communities and artists with similar tastes, styles and inspirations. Especially since fanart, for me, combines warm-up and stylistic experimentation with comfort. Adding well-known references to your gallery allows you to gradually expose your fans to your personal art. This is the concept of the "bridge" mentioned earlier. Participating in popular events, such as art challenges and monthly group themes, also allows you to sneak into new communities, to let them discover your art, and most importantly, to discover their own art, and share your inspirations.

ISSUE BLUE

|

23


R MAGAZINE

You often talk about how you feel about various events in the world, including Covid19 and quarantine. By the way, you have illustrated and told the stories of people you met in a project called "Project Lock." It is touching, poetic and thoughtprovoking. What would be your personal account of this period? Was it a good time to create?

First of all, thanks a lot. If I had to recite my "Serrure" in one sentence, I would say that it was a "forced pause" for me. Just before the pandemic, I was freeing myself from a former life that was very demanding, professionally but especially psychologically. Lockdown, as with all of us, has put a big damper on my social life, so it has made me rethink my priorities. A lot of time with myself, to settle down, face my demons and cultivate my real dreams. Anyway, I pushed the pencil into the little 'reboot' button. This time with myself also allowed me, of course, to devote myself more than ever to my personal art, to focus on creation, not just as a job, but as a passion. This is where most of my participatory projects have come from. Whether in your illustrations or in your writings on social networks, the gear symbol is omnipresent. What does it represent for you?

The famous question! Although I have always been fascinated by gears and any other kind of mechanism, the concept of my "Pignons" was completely improvised. As mentioned earlier, I have a complicated relationship with my need to archive everything, halfway between passionate collecting and... failure anxiety? I slowly developed a style that allowed me to concentrate on what I enjoy most, which is no longer design and perspective (which I keep for long-term projects) but the idea in all its purity. Initially, these illustrations were inspired by ancient frescoes, usually 'carved' into trees, caves and rocks. I then saw the potential for collecting, so I could bottle up a phenomenal number of ideas and memories. I was looking for a way to "group" them together and then "assemble" them. That's how I came up with the concept of the cogwheel.

You take the time to write regularly on your social media. How do you connect with your community?

I like to feel close to them, to answer their questions but also to ask them some, to know what they would like to see and have, in order to keep a healthy balance between my passions and theirs. While my current community revolves mostly around neurodiversity and the animation industry, I'm also increasingly trying to reach out to people who are passionate about video games, literature and history, which could open up opportunities for related projects. When you are called in for a project, what do your clients look like? What kind of projects are you most interested in?

It all started with simple word of mouth. My clients can be anyone, people who want to illustrate a couple's anniversary, to immortalise an achievement or a heavy ordeal, such as cancer or bereavement, or people who want to collect their personal passions, their favourite fictional characters and fantasy worlds, etc. The projects that interest me the most, apart from obviously illustrating interests that I share with them, are those that give me the most freedom. Several clients have trusted me and given me carte blanche. The creative freedom is something that is very much felt in the final result.

ISSUE BLUE

|

24


R MAGAZINE

What are your favourite Pignons?

I love them all differently (yes, they are my children) but I will still name three which have a similar background: The one simply called “Spring,” one of my very first, inked impulsively on an April morning. As I was heading to work, after an unfortunately difficult night, a small white-throated sparrow followed me, hopping along a fence and singing. I finally stopped and said, literally, "How are you?" To my great surprise, it stopped, started circling me while singing and then took off. At the same time, the sun broke through and drastically melted the snow around me, turning the streets into a black and white archipelago. I arrived late that day because I felt the urgent need to illustrate this "piece of spring."

My second one, to follow, is called "Equinox." Drawn on a beach in Maine in the autumn, surrounded by my family, towards the end of the same difficult period mentioned earlier. At that time, due to a lack of advanced thinking skills, my illustrations were rawer, focused solely on naïve, pleasing and personal themes. In this cog, I have represented my "inspiration clock" which changes drastically with the seasons. For that matter, one of my next big projects will be based on this concept.

Then my third, my favourite of all, "Comptine de Yourte," like the other two, was not thought out but purely improvised during a dark period, focused on simple passions. In this case, my dream future: living in a yurt in the forest, surrounded by dogs and beehives. In a way, these three Pignons represent the very essence of my Gears: preserving the simplicity and impulsiveness but also the seriousness and involvement of a child's drawing.

ISSUE BLUE

|

25


R MAGAZINE

Book You are the author, illustrator and editor of your book Aspie Encré. What is it about?

It illustrates various features of autism, some well-known such as self-stimulation, communication and hypersensitivity, and others less well-known such as cognitive distortion and defence mechanisms, in a non-scientific perspective this time, but personal and poetic. I wanted to depict my daily life not as a diagnosis, but as a different way of living and feeling. How did you get the idea to create a book?

I always wanted to create one. But I had always been in love only with the idea. In the same way that I've always dreamed of creating a music album and a video game, except that I don't have a meaningful concept yet. The illustrations in the book were originally for the annual Inktober challenge in 2018. Being on the verge of turning thirty, I remembered my promise to myself to come out about Asperger's syndrome before my thirties, in order to be fully active in raising awareness about autism.Then, once it was published and revealed, a good friend of mine told me that this collection would make an interesting book. We know what happened next.

This book, Aspie Encré, which I consider to be small in scale, served as a prototype to test all the steps, in order to accumulate the necessary experience for future, more ambitious books. What is the general message you want to convey with this book?

That there is no duality between autistic people and so-called "normal" or "neurotypical" people. We are all cogs with pinions that connect to different racks. The hands turn at different rates and the springs jump at different forces. But we all remain gears. We just need to take the time to listen to each other, to give everyone the opportunity to express their own world. This, I believe, is the whole concept of neurodiversity. If you had to represent your book with a quote from it, what would it be?

"As long as our world remains." You write that aspies (people with Asperger’s) are "easier to understand than you think, it's just a gear set up differently." Do you feel misunderstood?

Less and less. There was a time when I did, but life experiences, both good and bad, led me to surround myself with more and more people who actually never really asked the question. They simply accept me as I am, without pointing out any peculiarities or raising any questions. Thanks to these people, if it wasn't for my active outreach in the community, I would forget about this "diagnosis" at times. Over time, I have come to realise that I am simply... me.

You are rightly very proud of having put together every single stone of the book. Was it important for you to do everything from scratch?

One of my other dreams is to start my own publishing house. Will it be large-scale? No idea. The important thing for me at the moment is the simple pleasure of its creation. A small personal project. I like to know how things are done, how the "pipelines" work.

ISSUE BLUE

|

26


R MAGAZINE

Syndrome Tell us about your childhood (your family, your roots, your limited interests...). What was your schooling like?

I grew up here and there between Quebec City and Montreal, nestled in a close and vibrant family despite my parents being separated. My cousins were like my brothers and sisters and, having never been judged, it was only when I started school that I became aware of my 'difference.' My mother consulted a lot for me, at a time when autism was still little known in Quebec and even very marginalized. She ended up being told by seven psychiatrists (I could almost write a fable about it) that I would never go to a 'normal' school. However, she wanted to try, despite the protests of those around her: "You're going to make him suffer, you're going to destroy him, etc." A headmistress offered us the chance to join her school. The journey was laborious, fraught with difficulties and judgements. However, I was lucky enough to be surrounded, like my childhood cousins, by loyal friends who accompanied me, one cog at a time, in my integration, until the adaptation melted into a natural calm. I remember a rather touching story when I was in my first year. I used to self-stimulate a lot in the playground, i.e. going back and forth, lulling myself, escaping into parallel worlds, etc. Yes, sometimes children would surround me and mockingly imitate me. Yes, it was a shock as brutal as being woken up in a dream by a bucket of ice. One of my good friends, however, was literally fascinated by my 'trances.' She even asked me to teach her to walk and rock like I do. I asked her why and she said, "You look so happy when you are in your world. I wish I could feel what you feel." I will never forget her.

At what age and under what conditions were you diagnosed with autism? If you had to explain to someone who had no knowledge of Asperger's syndrome, what would you tell them?

My signs came early (the quest for a diagnosis started when I was two years old). As soon as I was old enough to sit down, I was swinging, gently like a drinking bird or frantically like a metronome. It was a trance that opened a breach to another world, mine. I had a 'jagged' hypersensitivity, that is, an anxiety-provoking aversion to specific sounds, such as scissors curling ribbons [shudder], the vibrating radio in the car... or making me sing "happy birthday." On the other hand, I had a total indifference towards spectacular stimuli, such as fireworks and thunderstorms. And finally, I apparently had an uncommon vocabulary and absorption of knowledge from narrow, even obsessive, interests. Can you learn to be a parent of an Asperger's child?

When I was a young child, my mother cut my time like a checkerboard, between comforting solitude and gradual exposure, so that I would gradually tame the world and - important - so that the world would tame me too. So it was a fine balance between fitting in socially while maintaining my true nature in a healthy way. For example, every Friday, she took me to the restaurant, an infernal furnace of noises, smells and ophic looks. And in the worst ones at that! Big family restaurants with five-minute clapping birthday songs... In short, 'soft shock therapy.' But this is what made me get used to it gradually, until I liked the restaurant. A little too much, even... She also always enrolled me in the same activities as the so-called neurotypical children (summer camps, extracurricular activities, etc.) but made sure that an adult looked after me and supervised me. Nevertheless, this question raises an interesting debate between two schools of thought: one advocating full adaptation in society and the other, the adaptation of society through the setting up of adapted structures. Personally, I advocate a balance, such as the one I experienced.

ISSUE BLUE

|

27


R MAGAZINE

You are very active on social media during April, autism awareness month. What are the most common clichés you hear about autistic people? Why is it important to share information with your community about this?

It is known to everyone that the most vicious parasite to autistic people and their parents is prejudice. We are told and asked things that stagger us between absurd frowns and injuries. From the wacky to the cruel. Let's play Bingo together: "We are all a bit autistic." "But he talks, so he's not really autistic." "Don't go near him, he's probably violent!" "Aren't they the geniuses who can count all the toothpicks that fall to the ground?" "Can my daughter get autism if she plays with your boy?" (true story) "Autism is the new fad to justify bad children." And of course, to keep it topical... "It's because of vaccines!" My personal mission, apart from dismantling these prejudices, is above all to bring a softer perspective to autism. As explained earlier, beyond a medical diagnosis, it is a different way of being that has as much right to emancipation as anyone. You work from home, from your studio. Does the fact that you are less confronted with social interactions, with stimuli that you might encounter in a traditional work environment, give you relief?

In fact, I work part-time in an animation studio as an animator and at home as a freelance illustrator. It's not necessarily related to the social interactions I like, actually. For me, this duality is a perfect balance between teamwork, where I keep my communication and proactivity sharp, and solitude, where I can maintain my personal creative furnace.

Are you experiencing (or have you experienced) any difficulties in your work because of your Asperger's syndrome?

Apart from sensory concerns such as very noisy days, not necessarily. I have been constantly fortunate to work with open-minded colleagues. The few who were confused by prejudice - and the worst few who tried their hand at some kind of cruelty - were soon dwarfed by a curious and enthusiastic majority. Last word

The balances I want to preserve in my art between simplicity and challenge, nostalgia and exploration, and relaxation and discipline, orbit around what, for me, is the most important thing in our lives: our identity. It is probably one of the things we take most for granted, even though it is one of the most fragile spheres there is. Our identity is not limited to our name, status, etc. It is the very essence of being, the tree that is rooted in our experience and from which our choices and dreams sprout. It is the true self, without mask or megaphone, free from judgement, with whom we really want to grow. It seems so simple, so untouchable, but identity is vulnerable. It is alienated by work, perverted by toxic relationships, and crumbled by an obsessive illusion of happiness. Personally, I have never been so close to what I aspired to since I was old enough to dream. However, I paid a high price to realise it. Your identity can be ripped away from you, drowned, crumbled, put into a coma, and although I wouldn't wish it on anyone on this earth, you can only really realise and understand it when you live it. I therefore raise my pen to you all. Don't let anyone tell you who you are, don't let anyone convince you to forget yourself. You each have so much to offer. You all have the right to be who you are.

We are happy to share a bit of your world and your touching and authentic vision of life. I hope that our readers will be as transported as we were! Thanks to you. You can find Corentin Hunter on his website, on his Facebook page or on his Instagram profile. His collection Aspie Encré is for sale on Etsy.

LAURA BONNIEU

ISSUE BLUE

|

28


REMROV Casey Vorner

Photorealistic drawing An expert Non-verbal autistic people A voice ISSUE BLUE

| 29


R MAGAZINE

Casey Vorner is a young man and an artist, who has been drawing since childhood. Remrov's specialises in photorealistic drawings, especially of animals, considering his love for them. He has a website to share and sell his art, and a Youtube Channel called Remrov's World of Art and Autism, where he shares his experience with autism and sends positivity to his followers. He shows others what a non-verbal autistic person is. Casey is devoted to his passion for drawing and lives for his art. ENOLA TIERTANT

Why did you choose this type of art ( photorealistic drawings)?

I started out with cartoons and funny alien creatures when I was much younger, but I was always more interested in making realistic drawings. I'm very literal minded, so I just like to draw things how they literally are, or how I see them.

You draw realistic portraits of people, animals, and buildings/nature, which one is your favorite to make and why?

Drawing wild animals is my most favorite. I'm a huge animal lover. Especially when I was younger I had a lot of difficulties connecting and communicating with people. This was always much easier for me with animals as they don't judge, and they don't use verbal language. I always had a very strong and special connection with animals, and they made me feel safe.

What do you like about drawing realistic human faces ? Does it help you to understand and analyze people?

To be honest, I don't really like drawing human faces. I only do this in commission. There's a lot more stress into drawing human faces, as you have to have everything exactly correct in the eyes, lips and nose, otherwise it won't look like that particular person. Can you choose your favorite drawing exhibit in the magazine?

My favorite drawing is the one I made of my little feathered friend Pilaf.

I've had Pilaf for 18 years and he always helped me a lot with the challenges I faced as an autistic person. He was also registered as my support/help animal. Pilaf passed away in March 2017 though.

Did discovering your autism change your look on your art?

After my autism diagnosis I did understand why I was always so perfectionistic and detail oriented, and why I could focus to such an extent. It helped me understand why I was very good at certain aspects of my work, but also why I struggled so much with other aspects of it.

Tell us about your online store, do you feel more fulfilled in your art since you opened it?

I started a website many years ago, but didn't really sell my art online immediately. Selling online was a thing that went very gradually. A few years after I started my own website, I got myself a store on Fine Art America, where they make prints and other products with art on demand. It's one of the few steps towards making a living with art, which I'm able to do now.

How do you explain that art can be the solution for a neurodivergent person to feel good? You say that drawing made you feel safe in your childhood, is it still the case?

Drawing made me feel safe when I was little because I struggled a lot with communicating and social interacting. And I noticed that whenever I was drawing, people left me alone and didn't expect me to communicate.

ISSUE BLUE

|

30


R MAGAZINE

It's a bit different for me now as my communication and interacting skills have improved a lot, so it's not so much that it makes me feel safe, but more that I just enjoy it a lot, and it provides me with a living. It makes me able to be self-employed instead of working for an employer, which always gave me a lot of anxiety. Do you have any advice for an autistic child who is afraid of communicating with others?

In my case it wasn't so much that I was afraid to communicate. It was more that I didn't have the ability to communicate much. It was like I was trapped inside of myself and I couldn't find a way out. I also found it very difficult to find the words for what I wanted to say. I've always been very visual: I see the world and my own thoughts in images instead of words. In order to communicate with others. I have to convert those images into words. And I also have to do that when others are talking to me, I have to translate their words into images, so it makes sense to me. The difficulties this caused did make me afraid of communicating with people though, because there were often too many misunderstandings, or I was bullied a lot. The advice I have for autistic kids who also struggle with these things is to keep on trying. Reading books and watching movies helped me a lot to learn about socializing and communicating.

We are very happy to allow you to meet this sensitive and realistic artist. You can learn more about him and appreciate his work on his website: www.remrovsartwork.com. Art makes him feel safer and happier, hopefully his work can also convey these feelings to you! Remrov wants to pursue his work, and indulge in his true interests, he’d like to: “go back to working on drawings of topics that are really my passion, like wild animals, lions, tigers and elephants”. This however isn’t his only goal going forward, he: “would also love to live and work in a large open space loft, and to own my own gallery “.

ISSUE BLUE

|

31


PAYA’S WORLD A N I M A L S ,

P A S T E L S ,

A N D

O T H E R

W O N D E R S

ISSUE BLUE

|

32


R MAGAZINE

V (Translation of the speech bubble: “I feel something. I’m not sure what it is.”)

alérie Picotte, aka Paya-Art Illustration on social media, is a Quebec illustrator with remarkable halfhuman, half-animal characters. Primarily made with gouache and watercolours in pastel tones, her unique works borrow from the softness and carefree nature of childhood. A touching encounter with an authentic and especially human artistic method.

Could you introduce yourself to our readers? Tell us a bit more about you and your journey.

I am currently studying dance education. My university course is called “Master’s Degree in Arts Education” and I specialise in dance. I will graduate by the spring of 2024. In parallel to my studies, I am in a placement position in a school to get familiar with the teaching profession. As for illustration, I have been drawing since I was a year and a half old. Let’s be clear, at that time I was mostly drawing squiggles (laughs). My family and friends have always thought I would become an artist.

What finally drove you to start drawing? What was the tipping point of your artistic career?

I don’t know. I started drawing when I was very young, mostly because of the calm that it brought me. It was an activity that made me feel like I wasn’t bothering anyone. When I was drawing, life was calm, and I could hide in my happy bubble, live in my own world and put it on paper. Other than that, drawing also allowed me to get closer to the students in my class, and to garner a kind of personal prestige. Gradually, adults and children alike started to recognise my illustration skills, and it made me happy. Drawing always allowed me to disconnect, to think less, to refuel with music in my ears.

You have a unique world. What are your different inspirations? What do you draw from when you create?

My inspirations go so far back that I can’t really determine their origins. But there are a few artists I admire, such as Isabelle Arsenault ( La quête d’Albert , “Albert’s Quest”) or Hervé Tullet ( On joue , “Let’s Play”). These past few years, I have been very interested in simple, sleek illustrations, and I liked the way Isabelle Arsenault used black pencil in her works to bring out the colourful details. It made the drawing more comprehensible and powerful. Children don’t always latch onto a drawing’s prettiness – what they want is essentially to understand and quickly identify what they are seeing.

CHLOÉ CASTANHEIRA

ISSUE BLUE

|

33


“Childhood” seems to be the, or one of, the recurring themes in your works, in the subjects and characters that you depict. How do you explain this attachment?

I don’t think it is either conscious or deliberate. I think that in a way, I may have never left the childhood stage. I have always comfortably stayed there. I don’t feel like an adult. I prefer children’s albums to novels, and animated films (like Disney) to those with real humans.

Anthropomorphic figures have a big role within your work. What relationship do you maintain with your characters?

When I was younger, I drew animals nearly all the time. I wasn’t really interested in humans. I found animals easier to understand, and more predictable as well. I was closer to my cats, for one. In fact, to be perfectly honest, my biggest dream was to become a cat (laughs).

Unfortunately, I quickly understood that if I wanted to keep a healthy mind in a healthy body and live adequately as a human being, I had to change my career. I was then encouraged to draw human beings. So I compromised with myself: I drew in between, half animal, half human. It’s a dilemma that’s slowing down my book project, in fact. (I’m especially thinking of comments that people gave me about children finding it hard to identify with a cat-person…)

What is the message you would like to give through your works, the idea you would like to convey above all?

I would say it depends on the drawing. Some are more committed, and really aim to raise awareness, to educate about the unfounded myths around autism. Others are more spontaneous. I’d say they reflect more a state of mind or a desire that I feel in the moment. These days in particular, I’m working a lot on my technique. I try new styles, new tones, I take risks. It’s very important to me.

Otherwise, I tend to like breaking stereotypes: gender, culture, neurodivergence… Maybe somewhere deep inside of me, there’s a wish to encourage inclusion that shows itself in my style.

What are the different ways that you contribute to raise awareness among your admirers/followers in your everyday life?

These past few years, I did not have that much time or energy to do many things. But I still participated in a collaborative book with Aut’creatif. I made some drawings for the Quebec Autism Federation a few years ago. I also participated in an illustration project for a fourthyear primary class.

I I HAVE HAVE A A TENDENCY TENDENCY

TO TO LIKE LIKE TO TO BREAK BREAK

STEREOTYPES STEREOTYPES

ISSUE BLUE

|

34


R MAGAZINE Otherwise, I’m involved with a Facebook page with friends, and I have organised conferences on intimidation with a friend. In my everyday life, I like breaking taboos around autism by openly talking about the subject. Because of my straightforward nature, I sometimes want to confront others on subjects like autism. Don’t get me wrong, it’s always a kind confrontation. I just think it’s important to interrogate certain thought horizons, and to make people see things they’re not used to seeing. On the artistic level, this is temporarily on hold, to give myself some personal time…

Can art become a vector for large-scale advocacy, in your opinion?

Art can absolutely be a vector for that. Art is everywhere, it surrounds us at all times. You just have to walk in the street to see it: publicity posters, bookshops, TV shows, cinema, etc. Art has varied roles depending on the people, and the functions we give to it. Art is everything and can become anything.

On your Instagram, you showed a few pages from your illustration book. Could you talk to us about this beautiful project?

I have a few ideas for Paya. I want to make her go on adventures to make her grow and evolve. Through dance, she will learn what perseverance is. Through a journey in a far-off valley, she’ll learn about differences and tolerance, and in other circumstances, she’ll develop her selfesteem, her confidence and her determination. I would like to create a book on autism explained to children, but the subject is complex, and I have many obstacles to overcome before accomplishing it. I’ve been stuck on it for two years already… The fear of not satisfying everybody or lacking accuracy in my words are essential obstacles, I think. It will take me time to start, because I want this project to happen in the best conditions possible. Other than that, I also organised drawing challenges on my Instagram account that I do every April.

Do you have any artistic projects in mind for the months/years to come?

For the months to come, I don’t know. It’ll be a surprise for me too, I imagine. With university, it’s always a question of time, and I went through difficult times with drawing these past few years. I have a list of things I’d like to do, but it’s buried deep in a drawer, I think…

ISSUE BLUE

|

35


ISSUE BLUE

|

36


R MAGAZINE

KAITRIN BEECHY

an eye for detail

ISSUE BLUE

|

37


R MAGAZINE

KAITRIN BEECHY IS GOOD AT NOTICING SMALL BUT IMPORTANT THINGS THAT OTHER PEOPLE MIGHT MISS THROUGH HER “WINDOWS”. IT IS OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO LOOK CLOSELY FOR WHAT IS HIDING IN HER PICTURES.

We met Kaitrin at a convention on autism. Often, there are autistic artists selling their art at these kinds of events. While people were listening to speakers, she was sitting at her kiosk, exhibiting her pictures and concentrating on a new drawing. With meticulous care, very patiently, she was adding details here and there, very concentrated on the task at hand. As soon as people were out of the rooms, she put her work away, listened to and answered, very politely, questions and comments from people coming to see her. We did not talk to her at that time but we listened to what was being said. Very softly, she talked to people, explaining her work. The same softness comes through her art. Most of the drawings are in black and white. Sometimes a color or two appears. The color is meticulously reproduced on each numbered drawing. We could not resist buying one called Summer Night. It was framed with a red border which enhanced the multitude of details.

ISSUE BLUE

|

38


R MAGAZINE

Kaitrin was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome and, as she writes on her website, it is a part of her. When she was young she had difficulty communicating, so drawing was a way for her to share her vision of the world and to connect with her emotions. If you look closely at her work, you will see that animals and plants are greatly represented. Humans are not the center of her universe but part of it. They are side by side with the magical, for a better understanding of the world. Her creative universe is called “Windows by Kaitrin”, windows that give people the opportunity to look at each other. So take the time to go and have a look.

ADRIENNE SAURIOL

ISSUE BLUE

|

39


MÉLISSA PERRON

LITERATURE

ISSUE BLUE

| 40


Mélissa Perron is a drawer, a painter, a self-taught writer. Diagnosed with autism in her late forties, being able to put words on her woes changed her life. Throughout our interview, Mélissa opens up about her life, her obstacle course through the illness, her rebirth, her works, her art and her current events. PAR LAURA BONNIEU

To begin, could you introduce yourself to our readers?

I am Mélissa Perron, I am 41 years old. Mom of two girls, I live on the Southside of Montréal. I write, I draw, I paint. I am selftaught. I love cats and plants. And my cats (really) love my plants too. They are all hung up so that my cats do not bite them. I am the author of three novels, and I actually just finished writing the third one. I also like storms, rain, and lakes. Anyway, I like many things and simple things make me happy.

The novels Could you tell us more about your novel, Promets-moi un printemps (“Promise me a spring”). What is the synopsis?

Fabienne is 30 years old. She is a famous painter, she has an understanding boyfriend, a supporting best friend and a close entourage. However, the reader will learn that she suffers from a profound depression and they will understand what it implies. Curiously, I succeeded in doing what I wanted: to write a bright story despite the topic. It’s incredible, because this novel came out in 2019 and still every week I receive messages from readers saying that I dealt with the topic in a soft and genuine way. The readers tell me that Fabienne is like a friend and that they would like to have a coffee with her. That is a huge compliment for a writer.

ISSUE BLUE

|

41


R MAGAZINE

Despite the softness, the hope and the humour, your novel tackles the serious subject that depression represents. I believe that this topic touches you in a specific way. Could you tell us why?

Before I knew I was autistic, I lived a few years with depression. Even though I was a teenager at the time, I realized it was taboo. We were allowed to speak about our last colds, our headache, but not about mental health. In hindsight, the biggest discomfort did not come from the others kids, but from adults, and often from professionals. Through the other characters in your book, you portray certain reactions experienced by the surroundings of someone with depression. Is it something you saw during your personal experience?

Actually, the reactions I received did inspire me. If I was once angered by so many prejudices, in hindsight, I understand that it was ignorance. I always knew that one day I was going to talk about this important subject; to put it in the spotlight and help it become normal. Nobody can say “Depression? It will never happen to me!” A lot more education needs to be done before being able to speak about it openly, but it is better than years ago. I like to think that Promets-moi un printemps helps in this progression, in its own way. Fabienne’s adventures later continue in Belle comme le fleuve (“Beautiful as the river”) which takes place a few years after Prometsmoi un printemps. How is your hero’s life different?

In Belle comme le fleuve, we discover an energized Fabienne. She is carried by her autism diagnosis and claims the right to finally be herself. Even if the reader knew her already from Prometsmoi un printemps, now, they discover a confident and ambitious woman. As early as the first pages, the reader knows they are going in for a ride. I also include many flashbacks to show how adolescence is like with autism. The reader becomes an

accomplice, since when Fabienne is young, she does not know why she is different from the others. I really enjoyed playing a double game: both present and past. Unfortunately, we rarely hear about mental illnesses. Do you think it is taboo in our society? Is your work a way to promote this topic and put it under the spotlight?

Yes, this is still a big taboo and I realize that it is linked to fear. “What we do not see, what we do not talk about, will maybe disappear if we act like it does not exist.” I have been motivated to see and share my life with people who have this “magical” thought. I decided to handle this topic thinking that it might make some people uncomfortable and that, at first sight, readers may not want to read a book about depression. Surprisingly, the opposite happened. Even though the subject is difficult, the book is not. Through word of mouth, people said that the book was touching, emotional and even funny. Many told me that they enjoyed the short chapters and that the reading was addictive! People were curious and still are. They want to know how Fabienne lives the hardest winter of her life. They see themselves in her, they are committed to her progression, and they tell me that they also lived some difficult times. During the pandemic, Promets-moi un printemps resonated with many.

The obstacle course through the illness Fabienne’s story resonates with yours. Which personality traits do you share with your character?

The first time I sat to write, I thought I was going to create a character that was different from me. I had read earlier that a beginner’s mistake was to write something close to themself. When I finished the book, I thought I went completely wrong: Fabienne has a lot in common with me. The beauty in writing is the mix between fiction and reality. It is a beautiful secret, being the only one who knows the truth.

ISSUE BLUE

|

42


AU TIS M

-The first novel Promets-moi un printemps touches on depression. The second and next one Belle comme le fleuve discusses a life with autism. The link between your two books is clear. Does it mean that depression goes along with autism?

I just read that people with autism are four times more likely to experience depression during their lives than neurotypicals. I am neither a scientist nor a specialist. But, for me, depression was linked to the fact that I did not understand why I was so different and, especially, that nobody was able to help me find an answer. I do not feel this unease ever since I was diagnosed. Now that I know I have autism, it helps me understand how I should react and not push my boundaries. This is helpful to me.

DE PRES SION

Did you always feel socially different like Fabienne does?

Yes, I did. I knew I was different very young. I was not able to identify what made me different, but I felt it. And I am sure people knew it too. I have never been intimidated, or hardly, but, usually, children were kind to me and took care of me. I still can feel this difference, but I tame it.

You were diagnosed with high-functioning autism, after many misdiagnoses. I read that according to a 2002 theory of Simon Baron-Cohen, women have a stronger ability to hide their symptoms than men in order to be socially accepted. Is this an explanation for these misdiagnoses to you?

This is probably one of the reasons, yes. When I told my diagnosis to a doctor and she replied “But no. You speak and you can look me in the eyes,” I thought we had still a long way to go. It is true that women often act like chameleons in society; they often imitate others in order to survive. Autism is a broad spectrum and there are as many types of autism as there are autistic people, so looking in the eyes and speaking should not be a criterion which wipes out the diagnosis. We have to continue talking about it. Earlier this summer, I wrote a note in La Presse where I tell my story. A lot of women contacted me to thank me; some of them related to Fabienne and are now in the process of getting their own diagnosis. There are parents who saw their own daughters in my story; teenage girls wrote to me wondering in which clinic I had been diagnosed. I am really proud that what I went through can help girls and women to

ISSUE BLUE

|

43


R MAGAZINE

finally understand themselves and, mainly, not to lose as many years as I did without any diagnosis. More autistic women want to be recognized for their difference that they are proud of. In 1994, we can understand that female autism was unknown, but in 2022, it is time that we hear, listen, and learn about autism and respect all these extraordinary women.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

Without a correct diagnosis, I suppose you did not have a response system set up for your difficulties, especially at school where there are countless stimuli?

Writing, painting, is there any other field you would like to discover?

Indeed, I did not receive any help. I loved school, but had countless learning difficulties. Not pursuing further education is a big regret. However, I comfort myself by thinking of how proud I can be despite everything: my books have been published by an important editor in Montréal and I am an artist with my own company named Rizada.

In what way did the diagnosis change your life?

The diagnosis changed everything. The day I knew, it was like the future was unlocked for me. It is strange to say, but I could finally rest and stop searching. I finally had the answer. I stopped wanting to be accepted and stopped organizing parties in order to be loved by everybody. I stopped offering gifts to be liked. I do not cross my boundaries. When I reach my limits (noise, conversations, etc.), I withdraw in order to recharge my batteries. I also gave up on relationships I was carrying alone. I stopped one-sided relationships. My life changed a lot since 2018. For the better.

It is thanks to my clients that my inspiration does not disappear. They have so many good ideas! They give me so much space for my own creativity even if they simply send pictures telling me what they want to see on their piece.

I really like photography. I am attracted to faces, closeups, facial expressions at a particular moment. I would also like to learn the art of pottery. Make my own pieces of ceramic and paint them. Screenwriting interests me a lot too. Maybe learn how to play the piano. This is why my late age diagnosis is frustrating. I often have the impression that I lost many years of my life searching for what I had. Now, I have the impression that time flies even though if I am still young. However, I tell myself that if I still have plans and ambition, my mental health is going well.

You are alone when you are in your workshop at home or when you are writing a book. Are you relieved when you have less social interactions?

Yes and no. I usually say in interviews that I am lucky to work alone at home. But the negative side is also being alone; I do not have any colleagues. I only interact with my little family. I often laugh saying that my office parties are calm. Loneliness is as difficult as it is delicious. This is quite an unclear way to live.

You can have the last word.

Art You are a multitasking businesswoman. You are an author, but also an artist. You paint on porcelain. How did this passion come to life?

It is a coincidence that I painted on porcelain during a summer day in 2009. At the age of 15 already, I used to paint huge abstract paintings, which I still enjoy doing. But considering the ways in which porcelain objects could be used daily in different ways by individuals really pleased me. I tried it once, it worked, and for twelve years I’ve continued doing it. Because I paint what people ask me to, the customization aspect of my work makes it even more important. I am always proud when someone tells me “I gifted her one of your pieces and she cried!” Nobody wants to make the other cry, but when they do it because you made their heart beat with your art, it is touching.

It’s because of people like you, who are interested in neurodiversity, that it will become more known and respected. Thank you so much.

Thank you, Mélissa Perron, for your time. We are proud to have a part of you in our issue about neurodiversity! We are looking forward to your third book. You can follow the news about Mélissa Perron on her Facebook page. Her books Promets-moi un printemps and Belle comme le fleuve, published by Hurtubise, are available in libraries or on the Internet. Finally, her work as a drawer and painter can be seen and ordered on her own brand website, Rizada, or on her Facebook page.

Baron-Cohen S. and S. Wheelwright J. Autism Dev. Disord. 34, 163-175 (2004) PubMed

ISSUE BLUE

|

44


NEURO DIVERSITY INTELLIGENCE IN ALL ITS FORMS

M É L A N I E

O U I M E T

ISSUE BLUE

|45


Diagnosed "a moderately autistic person with high intellectual functioning" at age of thirty, Mélanie Ouimet committed herself in the first person to the fight for neurodiversity awareness. Her goal is to normalize and promote the acceptance of "cognitive divergence" in society. She assumes that our individuality and our diversity are precisely what make our human spirit’s wealth. A universe without any colors, any shades, and any differences - this is what would really be "abnormal" in a world as wide as ours.

MÉLANIE

OUIMET

Mélanie Ouimet is the founder of the movement La Neurodiversité - L’autisme et les autres formes d’intelligence (“Neurodiversity Autism and other forms of intelligence”), created in 2015, and she also created the Neurodiversity Fair, the World Neurodiversity Day and Parents éclairés et Neuromanité (“Enlightened Parents and Neuromanity”). Being autistic herself and a mother of four atypical children, Mélanie makes her movement an exhortation "to celebrate neurodiversity, human diversity, intelligence in all its forms: the diversity of the brain, body and human mind, with all its suffering and pain, with its colors and lights." By showing that our individual specificity is exactly what makes the beauty and the variety of our world, Mélanie would like to invite society to "normalise" differences between human beings - paying specific attention to divergences of a cognitive nature - in order to accept them. Her project thus has a very specific goal, that is "raising awareness for these cognitive differences so that they are not seen as neurological disorders or mental illnesses anymore."

The Butterfly: icon of neurodiversity

70 ANS

The icon of the La Neurodiversité movement is a colorful butterfly with its wings spread out, which make up the infinity symbol. Indeed, Mélanie explains that butterflies, like neurodivergent people, are "delicate beings with huge strengths." Moreover, the butterfly represents change: first, the caterpillar appears "frail and puny," then the butterfly "has to fight very strongly to get out of its cocoon," to finally find itself living in an external environment where it has to face a lot of challenges and risks. Similarly, Mélanie explains that “neurodivergent people slowly grow and change. When fully blossomed, their colors are revealed and their true beauty is uncovered to the world." That is how "the different colors represent the heterogeneity that exists within an individual," referring to each person's "own and unique abilities." Finally, infinity evokes the endless journey of the human spirit, which is constantly evolving.

ISSUE BLUE

|

46


ISSUE BLUE

|

47


R MAGAZINE

The Neurodiversity Fair In 2017, the first Neurodiversity Fair took place in Montreal, Canada. During this first event organized by Mélanie Ouimet, speakers, experts and participants gathered to discuss and exchange about neurodiversity, with the aim of celebrating the variety and richness of neurological divergences. To help audiences better understand the notion of neurodiversity, Mélanie draws an interesting parallel between "neurodiversity" and "biodiversity," starting from the idea that the brain is comparable to an ecosystem. “Neurodiversity is a biological reality that represents the diversity of human brains and minds. This infinite diversity comes from a combination of innate and acquired factors that interact with each other and with the environment to form the individuality of each human being." From this definition, it is clear that the Neurodiversity Fair has become an event that invites us, in a way that is both constant and always renewed, to normalize the neurological divergences that distinguish individuals, by accepting the fact that they naturally contribute to "coloring" the human world through their variety and uniqueness.

Email: neurodiversite@outlook.com Website: https://neurodiversite.com/

Compassionate parenting Another area of research that greatly interested Mélanie Ouimet was positive parenting. This is what she observes in the relationship between parents and their children: “For several years now, neuroscience has demonstrated the importance of compassionate education in the lives of our children. Thus, adopting a warm, empathetic, and welcoming attitude encourages the brain’s development process, both emotionally and intellectually." In particular, Mélanie observes that parent-child relationships still mainly stem from an authoritarian upbringing, as evidenced by the fact that "punishments, reward systems, withdrawals, repression of emotions are still firmly anchored in our educational values." She also observes that neurodevelopmental disorders are often associated with "behavioral disorders": while it is true that these behaviors are beyond the child's control and will, Mélanie emphasizes the need to provide the latter with adequate emotional support so that the child learns to control and channel their emotions and reactions. Only understanding, psychological support and the emotional security from the parents and the adults who accompany them can truly help the child in their development and in their maturation, whereas recourse to authoritarian and repressive methods only accentuates the anxiety, crises, aggressive behaviors and social withdrawal within the child and the adolescent.

CHIARA JACAZZI

ISSUE BLUE

|

48


R MAGAZINE

ANNYCK MARTIN

| ANN MAY | Researcher and designer, she raises awareness of female autism

A

nnyck Martin is a talented author, but also a researcher and creator. She tells us how her artistic sensitivity and her experience with autism coexist.

ENOLA TIERTANT

It’s by observing herself create thatshe became aware of elements that made her different. This particularity was confirmed when, about ten years ago, she looked into autism. Everything then aligned and she "continues to learn by creating and searching". To understand how she came to this diagnosis she offers us her book, Le profil d'Asperger au féminin (The feminine Asperger’s profile). She adds that what helped her were her many readings on the subject, but also her meetings with other neurodivergent people. Since her diagnosis, she decided to stop trying to over-adapt to society, and to socialise as most people do, to instead be more respectful of her own needs.

"It was actually art at first that revealed elements of my functioning to me." ISSUE BLUE

|

49


R MAGAZINE

"I have several friends in my close circle who come from a neurodivergent background, with whom I have a lot of fun discussing topics of mutual interest. […] I am a creative thinker and it is a great pleasure to have the chance to meet other sensitive, creative and passionate people on my path ".

SINGULAR ESSENCE

To conclude on this subject, Annyck Martin briefly explains that autism was first noticed in a group of boys. This made it a rather male neurodivergence, while it presents itself in a different way in many girls and women. Moreover, societal expectations differ by gender, and these have also played an important role in the difficulty of identifying autism in women. The author is very involved and committed to the cause of female autism and raises awareness on this subject. She suggests that women who may have questions, join Facebook groups such as: Asperger au féminin, Asperger en pyjama, or in France: GRAAF – Groupe d’Action Autisme au Féminin.

As a writer, she gives great importance to the presence of images in her creative process: "I was then referring to thinking and speaking in images, in a primary language, which comes before the mother tongue. My thoughts are first made up of images and sensations, which I can then translate (or not) into words ". She does not only work with her images on the scale of thought, but also in a concrete way through photography. However, her approach is "more of a research-creation approach". If her works are to be discovered, where her penlies must be understood: "It's important to me that my writing is rigorous, but I don't want it to fit into a box".

Three works: Fille des arbres (daughter of the trees), an author’s notebook and reflections; La crypte cassée (the broken crypt), a literary essay exploring the relationship between writing, illness, trauma and resilience. Finally, Le profil Asperger au féminin (the feminine Asperger’s profile), a reference book, co-written with Isabelle Hénault, in which she talks about her journey, from the moment a psychologist told her about autism to her diagnosis.

For each book writing was an "unique adventure".

Annyck Martin then reveals her artistic work.

ISSUE BLUE

| 50


R MAGAZINE

ANN MAY Now for some creative confessions.First of all, on the subject of her pseudonym: "Ann May is a little like a double or my alter ego". This nickname helped her to talk about her difference, as she was initially more comfortable sharing via a pseudonym. Today, she doesn't feel the need for this name as much, but still occasionally uses it on social networks. As for its meaning, she says: "Ann is a part of my name. May refers to the month I would have liked to be born in. I was born in winter and I wish I had been born in spring".

PURPLE She then tells us about the colour purple: "When I started to make public interventions in the field of autism, I wanted to present myself by starting from these hidden aspects, to open them up as simply as possible. Purple is one of them. […] I don't know exactly why purple, but I do know that it is a colour that I am intensely drawn to, above all others".

AND CONFERENCES Her vision of autism and neurodiversity in the world is very interesting. She has by the way given lectures, as she wanted to raise awareness of the female profile of autism, which was still too little known even by professionals, and also shared her thoughts on the topic of "diagnosis in adulthood". She however had not planned to go into this field at first, but one thing led to another, and she ended up giving many lectures. Although anxietyinducing for her, the latter were able to help her overcome herself.

Will there ever be a world where it is no longer up to neurodivergent people to adapt, but to others?

I don't think it's going to happen and I don't think it's desirable either. Let me explain. I believe that our societies need to open up to all forms of diversity, including neurodiversity, and create real inclusion policies. I agree with the idea that society can do more. However, I would not like to live in a world where others would imperatively have to adapt to me. Nor do I like having to over-adapt to others. I like to think of it as a meeting halfway, where each side makes an effort to reach the other.

To finish the interview, an opening to feminism was made through this question: You are fighting for female autism. By extension, would you describe yourself as a feminist activist? "Several years ago, I saw my advocacy work as a warhorse. Today, my position is more nuanced [...]. I also rejoice in seeing other women with autism speaking out. There were some before me and there are more and more today. I like to see a diversity of faces and speeches, it offers a broader and more embodied view of autism and neurodiversity. I have a feminist side, but informal, I would say. I have not studied feminism, but I am sensitive to it. [...] Above all, I seek to contribute to create bridges between the many ways of being human and of living life," she says.

One thing is certain, this isn’t the last we hear of Annyck Martin aka Ann May: "I have just begun my research about the relationship between creation and neurodiversity and I hope to have the opportunity to develop and share it ".

ISSUE BLUE

|

51


R MAGAZINE

Brigitte Harrisson Autism explained to the non-autistic

ISSUE BLUE

|

52


R MAGAZINE

SHE WRITES BOOKS ABOUT AUTISM

The worst thing about being Autistic is not being allowed to be.

If you could talk about only one of your books, which one would it be? And why? L’autisme: Au-delà des apparences (Autism: Beyond appearances) published in 2010. It is written with my autistic thinking, it’s precise, concrete and very detailed, but not that easy to read for a non-autistic person. It was the first public version of the book I wrote in 1990: La fragmentation coherence intégrée (Integrated coherent fragmentation), that explained the autistic structure. It is the original version and it will be published as a scientific article later this year after 30 years!

One of them has been translated into English: New Ways of Understanding Autism. She is also the cofounder of SACCADE, a centre specializing in autism. Their main goal is to offer services to parents, professionals and autistic persons so that they can achieve their full potential. It was a very interesting exchange since she knows her topic firsthand.

What is the feedback for your book L’autisme expliqué aux non-autistes (Explaining Autism to the non-autistic)?

From the non-autistic person's point of view, they say that we finally understand what autism is and from autistic people, the comment is that finally, autism has been explained clearly. The book has been translated into more than ten languages.

Do you have any projects, artistic or otherwise, around autism, neurodiversity or psychology in general? What are your hobbies?

My hobbies: reading, drawing, Lego, puzzles, musical instruments, movies. I used to do miniatures and bobbin lace. My artistic projects: drawing what I see from an autistic point of view compared to the non autistic. I have been drawing for many years and I believe it would help neurotypicals to understand many things. I would like it if people stopped judging others and took the time to discover who everyone else is. I wish that we would stop having prejudices.

ISSUE BLUE

|

53


R MAGAZINE

DIAGNOSIS

autism You were diagnosed at age 39, how important is it to be diagnosed? Why is it so difficult for women to get a proper diagnosis and how did it affect you?

It is essential for us to know that we have this condition because we need to manage it. If you do not know, you can face many challenges. I had lots of challenges before I knew about it and it took me almost ten years to be able to balance my life. Now, I can enjoy life better. Autism does not present itself in the same way in women. It is known to be “camouflaged”. In fact, it is the same difference between non-autistic boys and non-autistic girls: the way emotions are accessed is not the same. It is more fluid for girls so it “colours” autism differently.

Photo: Jacques Nadeau

You say that even with a diploma, it is difficult for an autistic person to keep her job. How would you explain it and can it be solved?

You talked about “survival mode” but what does it mean for an autistic person?

It means always being on the alert without having access to a daily quality of life.

Do you think that psychology is progressing in the right direction?

Autism is a spectrum. Some people have differences and they are able to adjust to the world around them if that world is open to them. Others have a condition that calls for more support and understanding. Without that, autistic people like me cannot move forward and can only be a person with a “difference”. It is important to find a balance where people with “differences” can find their place in a society that does not easily accept differences.

Autistic people lose their jobs because they are not supported with their condition. Because we are intelligent and we can speak, non-autistic people believe that we learn like them. It is hard to make them understand that we don’t “read the contexts” in the same way and they try to “train” us. ISSUE BLUE

|

54


R MAGAZINE

LANGAGE

SACCADE conceptuel Can you explain the language SACCADE Conceptuel? Can you explain how you came to create such a language and how it works?

I did not create that language, it has always been a part of me. It is my language. It is also the language of a lot of autistic people, so that when I talk with them, we understand each other. When I started working on our project in 2004, Lise St-Charles and I decided to structure it. It is much more complex than any language: it is not used to talk but to deduce.

ENOLA TIERTANT

We would like to thank Brigitte Harrison for sharing with us her expertise and knowledge. A better understanding of autism is useful to everyone.

ISSUE BLUE

|

55


Paul Couture and the need to create

CREATE FOR THE PLEASURE BUT ESPECIALLY FOR THE NEED TO EXPRESS HIS CREATIVITY.

write, paint, photograph, sculpt... As far back as Paul Couture can remember, he has always created. Diagnosed at 65, he has known for a long time that he was autistic. He recalls one of his aunts who, he suspects, understood that he was different. She had a drawer full of surprises just for him so when he arrived at her house he would go straight to it.

ISSUE BLUE

|

56


ISSUE BLUE

|

57


R MAGAZINE

Paul Couture's background

The metal since the beginning “I worked in the same line of work all my life, 45 years. It is so easy for me to work with metal and it gives me the chance to express myself. I fell in love with my creations.”

ISSUE BLUE

|

58


R MAGAZINE

As a member of Mensa, he replies, “When you are asking me a question, there are so many parameters that I have to take into consideration. It is going so fast in my head, I need to think it through. Then it takes me more time to answer so it may seem long to you. It will not be a ready-made answer, it will correspond to my values. I feel things very strongly. We were born with an IQ which makes us dig deeper. We are more aware and we want to understand what surrounds us. Every new question can trigger ten new questions for me”.

His training is as a machinist. His last employer was a metal recycling plant. They would allow him to stay after his regular shift and use the tools that he needed to sculpt. The same employer would ask him to modify or repair some pieces of equipment. “I worked in the same line of work all my life, 45 years. It is so easy for me to work with metal and it gives me the chance to express myself. I fell in love with my creations.” So, he had the material, the equipment, the time and his creativity. In 2001, he rented a space for his exhibit and gave himself six months to finish his sculptures. In January 2002, he presented his work to the public. After that, he took some marketing courses but realized that they did not meet his needs as an autistic person. “I am sociable but not social”. So he started writing a novel: “It took me fifteen years to write it, it is not published yet and may never be, but it is quite a good story. Writing this book, filled my need to create so I put aside my sculptures.”

During the summer of 2020, neighbors threw away restaurant equipment made of stainless steel. “I took it, cut it and since I already had a mould, I made poem holders. I sold a few but I do not like to be present to sell my art. ”He creates to fulfill a need.

As you are reading these lines, other projects and creations are emerging. “I am putting the finishing touches on my poem holders. As we see the end of the pandemic, I will find a café or a restaurant to write more poems and, of course, I am already planning the second volume of my novel.” And to think that there are some people who are bored.

He admits that it has always been difficult for him to establish contact with people: “I went through a lot of traumatic events due to the way people treated me. I do not understand the world like everyone else does. Trying to be in someone else’s shoes was always very difficult.” That was until he found the book ‘J’ai pas les codes’ by Christel Petitcollin. It explained how non-written codes govern our daily life. “OK, that’s what they want,”he discovered.

ADRIENNE SAURIOL

ISSUE BLUE

|

59


ISSUE BLUE

| 60


Swi (Extrait du livre non publié de Paul Couture) Swi, une jeune Aranienne, court seule sur le plateau désertique du Dara. Elle semble fuir un danger invisible. Le relief s’incline, tourne et remonte, mais elle ralentit à peine. Elle reprend son équilibre, puis redouble d’efforts. Elle pousse la cadence et atteint des vitesses dépassant les deux cent cinquante kilomètres-heure. Elle a allongé ses jambes de plusieurs mètres pour filer aussi vite. Sa posture est parfaite, le haut de son corps est penché vers l’avant presque à l’horizontale. Sa méthode révèle une grande expertise pour une athlète aussi jeune. (Cette façon de se déplacer rappelle l’envol d’un oiseau à grandes pattes, cependant, cela demeure une course puisque celui qui le pratique se propulse à l’aide de ses jambes. On a surnommé cette façon de courir, le grand échassier pour évoquer sa ressemblance avec les oiseaux de cette race, les échassiers.) Sur ce plateau balayé par les vents, truffé d’obstacles, elle fonce droit devant ignorant les pièges. À quatre mille mètres d’altitude, l’air raréfié peine à emplir ses poumons. À bout de souffle, elle persiste, méprisant le danger. Soudain, la piste s’affaisse sous ses pas. Ses réflexes diminués par le manque d’oxygène, elle trébuche. Swi projetée au sol, rebondit telle une poupée de chiffon, puis s’arrête à quelques centimètres d’un précipice vertigineux. La poussière soulevée par sa chute, chassée par les vents, disparaît rapidement. Le contact avec le roc a été brutal. Malgré cela, elle s’en tire sans égratignures, sans contusions. C’est grâce à son Albirectiar, une entité agissant sur chaque cellule de son corps, qui lui permet ces prouesses prodigieuses et qui l’a protégée pendant sa chute. Il agit comme une armure rendant son porteur presque invulnérable. Toutefois, il interdit toute violence physique. Swi, allongée sur le dos, son torse monte et descend frénétiquement, cherchant à recharger ses poumons. Son cœur bat à tout rompre, provoquant un genre d’ivresse. C’est ce qu’elle voulait, ne plus penser, ne plus ressentir ce vide qui la submerge. Sa course folle l’a menée sur le promontoire de Coroné qui domine la ville de Drasabaille. Devant elle, le sol se dérobe dans un abime saisissant. Un panorama grandiose se déploie à perte de vue.

Préambule Un paysage de verdure, de mer et de montagnes majestueuses se prolonge par-delà l’horizon, comme une promesse. Si un endroit dans l’univers pouvait se comparer au paradis, ce serait la planète Arania. Pourtant, Swi est triste. La sensation de tournis se dissipe. Elle retrouve peu à peu ses esprits et doit refaire ses énergies. Elle regarde ses jambes pendant qu’elles reprennent leur taille normale. Puis elle se relève lentement et se place face au soleil, les bras écartés. Son corps se pare de longues fibres translucides qui décomposent la lumière à la manière d’un prisme. Ces paillettes s’agitent avec la brise. Dans cette lumière qui agonise, elle donne l’impression de s’embraser. Dominant le vide, elle cherche l’équilibre. Suspendue entre ciel et terre, perdue dans l’immensité du paysage, elle fuit ce vide qui l’oppresse. La civilisation aranienne vit en paix, en harmonie, depuis six mille ans, mais Swi ne trouve ni un ni l’autre. Au bout de quelques minutes, elle s’assoit, les jambes croisées. Le dos bien droit, elle pose les mains sur ses genoux, paumes vers le haut. Elle prend une grande inspiration et la relâche lentement. En même temps, elle approche graduellement l’index et le pouce de chaque main. Lorsque ses doigts se toucheront, elle devrait avoir fait le vide dans son esprit. C’est un échec. Sa course effrénée devait chasser ses pensées, calmer son désarroi. Trop d’idées se bousculent en même temps. Elle remarque que des choses étranges se produisent, toutefois, on refuse de la croire. Pire, on se moque d’elle en la qualifiant d’enfant gâtée et capricieuse. Elle recommence, inspire à fond et relâche l’air de ses poumons, le plus lentement possible. Ses doigts se rapprochent graduellement. C’est l’échec, une fois de plus, une fois de trop. Elle expire bruyamment, en marmonnant entre ses dents serrées : « Ouioué tais-toi ! » Elle redresse sa posture et essaie de nouveau. Rien n’y fait, elle attendra le coucher du soleil. Swi sait qu’elle doit redescendre, rentrer à la maison. À cheval entre ces deux univers, elle résiste, retarde ce moment en espérant autre chose. Dans ce ciel lézardé de longs cirrus, la fin du jour prend une allure dramatique. Seule sur ce cap rocheux, elle rumine sa défaite.

Vol.2

ISSUE BLUE

| 61


R MAGAZINE

SYLVAIN BERNIER

THE NESTING ARTIST ISSUE BLUE

| 62


R MAGAZINE

WHAT DRAWS YOU TOWARDS CREATION?

Creation has always been natural to me. It’s especially not a voluntary gesture, but a need inherent to my personality. I look at a situation, try to understand its different aspects as much as possible, and I see creative possibilities appear. This was the case with my novel, as well as my mythological characters classification project.

HOW, IF IT’S THE CASE, BEING AUTISTIC DOES INFLUENCE YOUR ART?

I couldn’t tell. I have always been creative and autistic, even if I learned about it late in life. However, with time, knowing allows me to understand how much of a need it is, something I have to take into account if I wish to keep my balance. In most social contexts (work, family, romantic or platonic relationships), some inhibition always comes into play, and not knowing the amount of strain this imposes on individuals was always very harmful to me. Now that I know my autistic nature, it is easier for me to accept this difference and either assume it, or inhibit it while knowing better how to navigate the labyrinth of societal madness.

WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE NEUROTYPICALS TO SEE IN YOUR ART?

My novel is written to force readers, up to a certain point, to put themselves in my supersonic autistic head. This process allows for a better communication with the reader, neurotypical or not. However, it is not necessarily addressed to neurotypicals themselves. Of course, I take the position of an autistic person by presenting the impact that other people’s different behaviours have had on my life's journey. But the result itself does not belong to me at all. Life in a group is hard for everyone. We often tend to ask for and demand recognition, but those we ask also have their own personal problems we need to take into account. It is demanding to constantly fulfill particular needs, whether for individuals or companies. It cannot be done spontaneously, and especially not without effort from both sides. And sometimes, the autistic person has to make the biggest effort. In my case, for example, some job positions I occupied or wanted were not compatible with my abilities. So I have to accept it and understand what is at stake for me and for others in my inclusion in a work context.

WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE NEUROTYPICALS TO UNDERSTAND ABOUT AUTISM?

The most important is that everyone can contribute in their own way. That sometimes, small enough adjustments that are required to become inclusive can be beneficial for everyone. For example, reducing ambiguity and stress levels. In short, we need to open a non-confrontational dialogue, because it is idealistic to think that, just because the will is there, it will be done easily.

HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO EDUCATE PEOPLE ABOUT NEURODIVERSITY?

I think tolerance is gained through social measures that allow a certain uniformity based on what we all have in common. Human beings, autistic or not, fear what is different. Hence racism, the marginalization of some people. The only way to act differently is to continue to highlight the existence of the special individuals that autistic people are, and to leave space for them in the media without being cartoonish, what is unfortunately often the case.

ISSUE BLUE

|

63


R MAGAZINE Extract from his autobiography Anna Graham: Epopée poético-poïétique (“Anna Graham: a poetic-poietic epic”)

Cet arbre donc, comme sa vie, des racines tordues telle l’âme de Sade *, des branches de grandes dames et un tronc flagellé par de nombreux drames . Ce qu’a vécu cet être ligneux*, malheureux, seul sur sa côte , elle l’ignore, tout ce qu’elle a pu constater c’est ce que cela lui avait coûté . Par contre, le derme de son histoire à elle, râpé au point de ressembler à une pauvre mal parée , dont elle connait la moindre gerçure, rien maintenant ne le répare puisque grossièrement sculpté à la rapière *. Excalibur* et Joyeuse* n’ont pas fait autant de ravage que cet arsenal mobilisé par la vie afin de marquer une de ses enfants dans sa chair — Acté* offerte aux fauves a reçu un meilleur sort — bien faible cadet * à l’uniforme décati et au cœur trop délicat pour cette bataille à forces inégales. He would love to see it published on the “Oulipou” list under the “nesting artist” pseudonym.

We actually met Mr. Bernier during an evening organized by “Aspis rencontres”. He eagerly shared with us what he was working on at the moment: a system that classifies and categorizes mythological characters. With thousands of entries, he places these gods and heroes in time, based on hundreds of works written through the centuries. He is also working on his autobiography, which contains many references to mythology. As an avid reader, Mr. Bernier spends a lot of time in his books or in his notebooks. He admits he can easily spend twenty hours a day in his books. When a word catches his interest over the others, he writes it down and uses it in his own writing. Each word that he reads and doesn’t understand the meaning of gets its own small research. Each written word holds a special weight. “The text is based on a mental exercise around ‘nesting words.’ As its name suggests, like the Russian nesting dolls they take their name from, these words interlock inside one another (FI-FILFILE-FILLE-SIFFLE). To maintain coherence through the text, each sentence contains at least three nesting words that always go from the shortest to the longest. The last one contains all the ones that come before. In order to make these words stand out, they are strongly accentuated . The reason is simple: when I read, I see these words among all the sentences my eyes travel through, and I sometimes stop analyzing them. The first step to SHOW you how I read.”

In this story, the word would be given to thee to understand. The three words would then give it to either you or me. Neither you nor I could go on like this forever. Thank you M. Bernier, for this challenging exercise. Donatien Alphonse François marquis de Sade (1740-1814) homme de lettres français longtemps voué à l’index en raison de la part accordée dans son œuvre à l'érotisme et à la pornographie, associés à des actes de violence et de cruauté. Une plante ligneuse est une plante qui fabrique en grande quantité des lignines, macromolécules organiques donnant à la plante sa solidité, et dont le bois est le principal matériau de structure. Épée à lame longue et fine dont on se servait dans les duels. Épée magique légendaire du roi Arthur dans la légende arthurienne Nom de l'épée du roi Charlemagne (V.742-814) dans la Chanson de Roland, poème épique du XIe siècle. Roman d’Alexandre Dumas père (1802-1870) paru en 1839 dans lequel Acté est envoyée dans la fosse aux lions, mais sauvée par un ami de Saint-Paul. Soldat encore en formation. Usé par l’âge ou le temps.

ADRIENNE SAURIOL

ISSUE BLUE

|

64


Valérie CloutierCadieux: all smiles and words If you take a look at Valérie’s webpage, you cannot resist smiling. That young woman writes and draws to express what “she sees in her head”. As an autistic artist, she wishes to educate people through her art so that neurotypicals can see the importance of diversity.Diagnosed at thirteen, she admits that it is much harder for girls to get a diagnosis of autism early in their life. According to the website, MedicalNewsToday, girls, even those on the spectrum, have “better abilities to adapt, which can postpone the right diagnosis”. Her mother found information and clues on the internet that brought her to a psychologist for an evaluation.

I TRY TO EDUCATE PEOPLE THROUGH MY ART.

ISSUE BLUE

|

65


R MAGAZINE

How would you like neurotypicals to view your art?

I would like them to see the beauty of it and the importance of diversity.

What do you wish them to understand when it comes to autism?

So many things. That we should not need to have a particular talent or interest to be accepted and that we are not all “geniuses” but humans with all that it implies. Those of us on the spectrum are all as different as neurotypicals are. We are entitled to a decent life just like them. la vie autant qu’eux.

How do you educate people to neurodiversity?

By being myself and by showing them that differences can be positive. It is not a bad thing and everyone should be welcome “at the table”. I am a kind person and people see it through my actions. That in itself should help.

How does being part of the group Aut’Créatifs serve you?

Being part of an association makes it easier when you want to accomplish something. You do not feel as alone, more individuals can talk about autism. These voices put together make our message stronger.

I HOPE THAT PEACE WILL FIND ITS WAY INTO YOUR AND YOUR READER’S HEARTS. HAVE WONDERFUL DAYS!

ADRIENNE SAURIOL

ISSUE BLUE

|

66


R MAGAZINE

Part of a poem that won 3rd place in a contest (translation) To Exist

The first breath that you take, Ignoring the world around you People around you Their love After more breaths You realize That to exist You will have to scream Scream Who you are Beautiful or ugly Holding on to the hearts You love with passion and devotion With dignity To face People that hate you Then you will find Your inner peace

ISSUE BLUE

|

67


PHOTO

Lucila Guerrero a multifaceted autistic artist

ISSUE BLUE

IT IS HARD TO FULLY DESCRIBE THE BREADTH OF LUCILA GUERRERO’S TALENT. SHE IS SIMULTANEOUSLY A PHOTOGRAPHER, PAINTER, WRITER, CONFERENCE SPEAKER AND ACTIVIST FOR AUTISM AWARENESS.

| 68


R MAGAZINE

On her website, you will find black and white photos that showcase her eye for detail. In the digital painting section, you will be awed with her works blurry, colorful and expressive aspect. With her virtual cards, you will suddenly want to smile at the composition of her pictures and the attention given to details. No one can deny she has a sharp eye. Diagnosed in 2010, she had to take some time for herself to process her past. The professional who screened her also encouraged her to move forward. Through the help of Aut’Créatifs , a group which she co-founded, I managed to contact and interview her. Lucila creates to satisfy a need to communicate and pass on a message. For her, art has become a tool for reclamation that allows for “both authenticity and a way to offer reflections on human nature.”

ISSUE BLUE

|

69


WHY DID YOU CREATE AUT’CRÉATIFS?

As she puts it so well, she would like to transmit through her art “a positive recognition of autism, as well as invite dialogue to get to know us better. I would like to make connections, to break myths – like autistic people lacking imagination, for example. We can be creative in any domain. I want to remind you that nature made us all unique living beings. Therefore, there is no one or right way to be, and autism is part of this natural diversity. Autism is not a disease to cure, nor is it a burden on our shoulders, and there is no treatment for autism other than respect and kindness. Like anyone else, autistic people can laugh and thrive when they are well, in an appropriate environment. Knowing that autistic people need to face various challenges on the daily in order to live in a world that’s poorly adapted to their state of being, and to be surrounded by a majority that communicates and interacts differently, we can therefore ask the autistic person what we can do to make her feel more comfortable, while validating and respecting what they tell us.” Her view on neurodiversity is this: “By definition, neurodiversity is the diversity of brains and minds amid the human race. It is a natural fact, like biodiversity. Neurodiversity is a facet of humanity, and we all belong to neurodiversity. The word’s creation is attributed to Judy Singer, an autistic sociologist and activist. The neurodiversity model celebrates the fact that each person is unique. In the same way that we are all externally unique through our physical appearance, we are internally unique too. It also suggests that we accept a human being as they are, and that we thoroughly reconsider our beliefs, our terminology, our approaches, as well as apply these considerations in every aspect of life. These ideas encouraged the emergence of the neurodiversity movement, which promotes social justice for neurodivergent people. This movement does not have a leader, and it evolves thanks to the thinking of activists from several countries.”

Our idea was to replace a false, negative and dehumanising narrative about us with a message from our own perspective. To encourage recognition of autistic people as full human beings, and acceptance of autism as a natural state of being for a large number of humans. Thus, Aut’Créatif s was born as a group of autistic volunteers in 2013, and became a non-profit organisation in 2015. We published a collaborative book called Notre Richesse (“Our Value”), a guide on respectful autistic terminology, some statements, and soon a bi-annual journal.

CONTACT

Website

ISSUE BLUE

|

70


R MAGAZINE

Over the years, her social

This training program aligned

involvement became

itself perfectly with my

necessary: “For a few years, I

values, as I was already

have wanted to learn about

convinced that listening,

the factors that lead to the

respecting and valuing a

weakening of autistic

person and their specificities

people’s mental health. The

could encourage a positive

social aspect of autism

growth. My internship in a

interests me especially, and

clinical team was undeniably

particularly the question of

full of learning moments

stigmatization, exclusion and

about human stories, and

normalization of autistic

served to confirm I was on

people. I am also interested

the right path. I was also a

in the experiences of their

peer support mentor, a social

family and loved ones, as

sciences student, and a

they also experience stress,

research collaborator on

incomprehension, judgement

autism. I am interested in the

and isolation. In this context,

subjects of stigmatization,

while reflecting on my

social inclusion, quality of

projects, I started to ask

life, and peer support in

myself how I could reconcile

autism.”

my different skills, my interest for research, my artistic projects, and my social actions to use them in the interest of my community while respecting the person I became. A professional in the autistic community then informed me of a training program that would prove useful to me: the mentoring

“There is no shame in being

program in mental health

autistic. Absolutely none.

rehabilitation for peer

Zero. I think we agree on this.

supporters that the psychiatry

However, any perpetrator of

department of the University

the violence, quiet or loud,

of Montréal’s Faculty of

that autistic people are

Medicine was offering for the

subjected to – whether a

first time in 2016.

system, a group of humans, a

Rehabilitation is an approach

community, or even another

centered on the individual

human being – they should be

and human relationship. Its

ashamed.”

goal is to help the person progress towards greater comfort and better living conditions while taking into

Extract from Aimer dans

account the particular

l’imbroglio (“To Love in

realities that they live.

Imbroglio”), 2018

GUERRERO, Lucila. Aimer dans l'imbroglio. Québec : Bibliothèques et archives nationales du Québec, 2018. ISBN 978-2-9817379-1-5.

ADRIENNE SAURIOL

ISSUE BLUE

|

71


R MAGAZINE

VALÉRIE JESSICA LAPORTE

THROUGH THE CAMERA LENS

"The unforeseen is the disorder of the universe. I don't like them."

ISSUE BLUE

|

72


Route STRAIGHT, DOTTED AND DASHED

"Music is a piece of art that goes straight to the heart."

As soon as the interview with Valérie Jessica starts, an electric energy flies through the screen. Its trajectory is straight, dashed, and dotted. It is also present on social media; as she would say, “I’m quite the chatterbox.” From a very young age, Valérie Jessica loved to create. She remembers her first photographic experiments: “I was trying to photograph things as I imagined them. I took pictures of stairs or shoes as a series, and it was a disaster, since I did not have the proper technical skills. I couldn’t find what I wanted to do anywhere else. I wanted to do it for myself, to bring me pleasure, but I wasn’t capable of doing it. So I made some illustrations on graph paper. I made a lot of repetitive stuff, which is why I really like dots and lines.” Time passes, and Valérie Jessica’s interest in photography only grows: “I went to a workshop in a forest with one of the founders of the Marsan school. He was offering private and semi-private lessons, and I found myself on one of these with a group in the forest. He told us about photographing what we really loved, about perception ranges. So I told myself I had permission that we were in the right place for discoveries. We had to create a triptych as a selfportrait, and people were fully immersed in the task. As for me, I was picking out details of myself amid this nature. There, I had the equipment and the experience. I was able to recreate what I had seen. I did as I had seen, showed him, and he said ‘Wow!’ I saw that it spoke to him, and that I could do something with this. It also allowed me to put words on what people felt while watching these pictures.”

Afterwards, abstract photography became more and more prevalent. Valérie Jessica does not see herself doing static studio photography. She wants to capture the moment when a person is relaxed enough to really be themselves. “When I manage to show a moment of a life, I want to show it like I saw it. I let myself be forgotten, and that can take time. It has to be normal interactions, and I’ll then catch it the way I see it, as well as how people want to show it to me. It’s crazy, the way it affects me. Suppose you interact with another person – personally, I see the people breathe, and when their breath halts a little, just before their final reaction, that’s when I try to capture the moment.”

Photo: Hélène Claveau

ISSUE BLUE

|

73


R MAGAZINE

.. Valérie Jessica has a job she says she loves: graphic design. Here as well, she has her own vision of what it should be. She thinks that a graphic designer should be both creative and reassuring. They should not repeat themselves all the time. They have to understand the product and make sure only the minimum is there, so that the message can go through clearly. “Usually, everything is in disorder. I need things to be clear and sleek, just like in a photographic composition. It’s the same for graphic design. I want people to understand it; I sanitize the environment and make everything clean again.” She is actually currently working with a client asking for a lot of creativity. She loves it, and says she knows how to adapt to a client’s needs. Diagnosed at six years old, she tells us at the age of 38: “Everyone was telling me this, and I didn’t want to know. I made a friend who worked in this domain and who convinced me to get diagnosed privately. Afterwards, it was my decision whether to tell others or not. Since I’d had some bad experiences with doctors trying to medicate me for some of my difficulties, I didn’t want that. Medication is not for me; it completely shuts me down.

“The psychologist I saw reassured me and told me this was acceptable, that I wouldn’t have any problems if my behaviour was suitable. I started to read on it, and 75% of the descriptions corresponded to my situation. When I decided to tell it to my entourage, no one was surprised. However, others said: ‘So that’s your deal!’ At the time, it had been a shock in my own vision, since beforehand, I had told people I was the result of negative occurrences. When I understood that certain things were part of me, and I started to be myself more, some people did not accept that. I was on the verge of cracking, but I went to see a psycho-educator specialised in autism, and after that it was progress after progress,” she confides. This allowed her to realise what was important, and what really mattered to her. She made herself a value grid, with which she takes her important decisions. She admits that she was more rigid before. Now, she allows for more areas she knows she can control.

ISSUE BLUE

|

74


R MAGAZINE

. Valérie Jessica was about to promote her book Méconnaissable (“Unrecognisable”) with TV programs such as Salut Bonjour and Deux filles le matin when the pandemic started. Let’s hope it will only be a temporary setback. In the meantime, she conducts mock interviews on TikTok to develop her ‘parallel skills.’ Several of her photos are on the commercial website Gallea. As you have probably noticed, she is quite the chatterbox.

Three is the loser in the victory, three is the surplus, rejected by the pair, three always threatens to fall on our backs; it’s the infinite cut down by the third, by a vertical and unbalanced amputation; three is war, phonetically; three comes just before the forced momentum; I hate three.

Extract from Méconnaissable

ADRIENNE SAURIOL

ISSUE BLUE

|

75


R MAGAZINE

IRIS MARTINEZ INTERVIEW WITH "THE MANY FACETS"

ISSUE BLUE

|

76


AUTHOR OF BOOKS FOR YOUNG ADULTS AND CHILDREN, IRIS MARTINEZ WORKS IN PHOTOGRAPHY, DRAWING, PAINTING AND CODING. SHE ALSO WORKS FOR MYELIN, A COMPANY THAT CONNECTS SCIENTIFIC RESEARCHERS, PRACTITIONERS AND PEOPLE INTERESTED IN MENTAL HEALTH. ENOUGH TO KEEP HER BUSY! SHE STILL TOOK THE TIME TO ANSWER A FEW QUESTIONS.

What inspired you to get into design?

I have always enjoyed writing and drawing. It is natural for me to create stories and to try to express them. It is also a way for me to process my physical, emotional and social experiences, in order to organize them and communicate them. For a long time, because I was very lonely, reading, and writing were refuges which allowed me to understand the social world and myself better. I later became interested in photography, as a way to reclaim the physical world. I have published a novel and some small books, and I'm trying to professionalise my photography practice. I could not say what specifically attracts me to creation, as it's an instinctive thing.

Even though I have always been involved in creative activities, I've always tended to keep my creations to myself, a bit because of the therapeutic aspect of art for me, but also because I find the social, even political, aspect of dissemination and promotion exhausting. I want to be read and looked at to share a little of my world, but getting out of my friendly circles requires an effort that I force myself to make (make a living from your creation is an old dream, from which I have returned a little, because I wouldn't want to be forced to produce to maintain a standard of living). I find interesting the initiatives that aim to give a little more visibility to autistic creators, and I thank you for your set of articles.

Have you found people to help you following your diagnosis?

Yes and no. By the time I got my diagnosis, I had already found ways to help myself for a long time and didn't really need outside support or tools. That being said, having a diagnosis has enabled me to present myself better and assert myself to others and to feel more legitimate in being who I am. This renewed selfconfidence, in return, has allowed me to find people who accept me as I am.

What led you to an evaluation?

I noticed quite early on that I was out of step with the others. I've always found it difficult to mix with children my age and was very lonely. I read a lot to compensate and keep myself company. At the time, people just thought I was 'weird' or 'rude'. A first diagnosis of giftedness also served as a general, but insufficient explanation for my particularities. The word 'autism' came later in my life. My mother became suspicious when I was a teenager, but it took a few more years before I was diagnosed at 25. ISSUE BLUE

| 77


ISSUE BLUE

|

78


R MAGAZINE

What would you like neurotypicals to see in your art?

What brought you to the Aut'Créatifs group?

Autism influences me in a diffuse way. It is my vision of the world that is reflected in what I produce, and this vision is intimately linked to my neurotype, since creation helps me to order my thoughts. That said, what I do cannot be summed up in my autism.

I heard about Aut'Créatifs through the awareness-raising activities of some of its members and I was delighted with the concept. I wanted to be able to exchange with other autistic people and artists, out of curiosity and a desire to belong. In the end, with or without my active participation, the simple concept of an activist grouping of autistic people and artists seems essential to me and I wanted to support it.

Even though I claim to be an autistic artist, I prefer that what I produce be seen or read as work made by an artist who happens to be autistic, rather than by autism. In other words, I find it important to mention that I am autistic to show that autistic people can be quite creative and to show an example - among others - of autistic sensitivity, but autism should not be 'fetishised' as a creative breath.

I find that artistic expression is a good way to open doors to worlds that are both similar and different. Artistic creation is a meeting and communication ground that helps break down barriers and prejudices. We can gather around a work that speaks to us.

How would you like to educate people about neurodiversity?

In a rather classical way, by showing them that it is neither a disease nor a defect and that it is only a handicap insofar as many social structures are not adapted to it.

Also check out her work on Instagram to see the breadth of her creative universe.

ADRIENNE SAURIOL

ISSUE BLUE

|

79


R MAGAZINE

IMAN CHAÏR An artist in senses and colors ISSUE BLUE

|

80


R MAGAZINE

Iman Chaïr is an artist and a photographer whose colorful universe is as original as it is extensive. As an autistic person passionate about art, she invites us through her pictures to discover a personal artistic work, unique and sensory, colored by her personality, her interest, and her sensitivity. R Magazine met this artist to whom art is an integral part of life:

Could you briefly introduce yourself?

I am a Moroccan photographer living in Casablanca. I am an Arabic-French-English-Spanish-speaking North African. Originally from Tangier, city with an international past (located at the Strait of Gibraltar, 13km from Spain), I mostly feel like a global citizen.

Is it possible for you to tell us more about your neurodivergence? What was your journey in discovering your neurodivergence? How and when did you discover it? What did you observe? In what way did your life change? How do you apprehend it?

All the questions I had been asking myself since I was a child about my own way of thinking finally had answers. It reassured me. Being neuroatypical, being autistic, is to suck in your environment, to absorb colors, smells, words, it’s to think with all your senses until you run dry. According to Hans Asperger, to succeed in science and art, a dash of autism would be essential. However, it is important to remember that the autistic spectrum is large and that it exists of course several forms of some autism, some of which are a severe disability. When it comes to me, I am not ill, I just feel the world differently, I feel it with acuity. My sensory perceptions can be overwhelming, but, at the same time, they can become an asset and transform into a great strength for my art.

By observing and exploring my son’s autism, I slowly realized that I belonged to the neuroatypicals’ world that I was thinking with pictures and sounds.

ISSUE BLUE

|

81


art What is your artistic journey, especially in photography?

I am a self-taught artist. And sometimes, neuroatypical also means artist, and also means self-taught. Indeed, the more I get away from academic systems and competition, the more pleasant and easier life is. My leitmotiv is: learn without constraints, learn by observing, by absorbing the world, which can be so sweet and so beautiful, learn in order to create. Create to share, and share to better understand the world. This is how my motto goes! However, my journey’s beginning was quite “normal”. I went to university and graduated with a Master’s degree in International Business Negotiation at La Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris. I did not work in the business world for long, because I was swallowed by another force: the magic of colors, of images and photography.

What is your vision of art and how does your creation process work? What place does art have in your life?

Art is a means of expression in itself, it is a way of communication. I create to relieve my soul by offering emotions to whomever can properly see them: I express myself, therefore I am. Art is omnipresent in my life, because my environment is pictural, colored, musical, and olfactory. I feed myself with what I see, what I hear, what I smell.

Do you have favorite subjects, recurring patterns, a leitmotiv?

My eye often stops on details when it focuses on an object, a person, an atmosphere. The subjects come one after another depending on my desires and the moments in my life. I do not confine myself to only one universe. I also like to combine text and photography; and there are patterns, almost obsessional, like dots and stripes, which are sometimes integrated in my pictures. Another passion I have is taking pictures of the United States of America, because it reminds me of my childhood and my adolescence, marked by American movie scenes I watched so much. It is obvious that an identity, a style stands out from my photographic work. At the moment, for example, I have a very vintage approach. In the end, I give the spectator all the freedom to make up their own idea.

ISSUE BLUE

|

82


R MAGAZINE

Do you sometimes fulfill orders or create a series of pictures with an intended theme for an exhibition or an external request? What about collaborations?

Have you observed differences and particularities in your relationship with art and in your process of creation linked to your autism?

There is AUTISME EN COULEURS (AUTISM IN COLOURS), the title of one of my flagship exhibitions that’s at the same time artistic and pedagogic, which was created in collaboration with an association. I had taken photos of autistic children in their everyday lives and of their beauty, in order to show a colored side of autism, full of hope and close to reality. I work on demand, except when I’m completely given free rein. I have the specificity of being fully free in my choices. I work according to my heart’s whims.

When I create, I need to be alone, completely submerged! It is really hard for me to be in a team. I even produced short movies with my smartphone without anybody: L’A…TISTE (A…..TISTIC), LE CHAPEAU MAUVE (THE MAUVE HAT) or Mia can be watched on YouTube. When the work is done, however, I stop withdrawing and share my works with the public, with as many people as possible. Talking with others then becomes a need, a priority.

Which artists or famous people inspire you?

There are so many, the list is long! Spontaneously, I would say the photographers Guy Bourdin, William Eggleston and Jose Maria Navia, as well as the producer Michel Gondry.

Do you already know your next projects, or those you would like to make?

I have many dreams and they often give birth to projects.

ISSUE BLUE

|

83


R MAGAZINE

Recently, I took part in a therapeutic photography course, a new concept which calls on photography for self-exploration and better self-awareness. Because I see myself as a visual thinker, I would like to become a visual “healer” of others. Since recently, I offer therapeutic photography workshops where pictures will spark words in order to relieve pains! Finally, my biggest dream is to produce a feature film about autism: a fiction where the main character would be a woman with Asperger’s syndrome. To be continued!

Thank you, Iman, for these confidences. Lastly, how is it possible to follow you and see your pictures?

I will only welcome you on my website.

CONSTANCE LEMAIRE

ISSUE BLUE

|

84


CINEMA

Autism with humour and emotion LAURA BONNIEU

Louis’ Shoes is a short film produced in 2020 by Marion Philippe, Kayu Leung, Jean-Géraud Blanc et Théo Jamin, four students attending the 3D animation film school, MoPa, located in Arles, in the south of France. It tells the tale of an autistic little eight-and-a-half-year-old boy, named Louis, on his first day in a new school.

This movie paints Louis’ world, this sweet and unordinary world. It puts his life into color, which he tells, his back to the blackboard, during his introduction in front of his new classmates. It’s an important moment for Louis, because he wants the other students to understand him instead of excluding him. He relates his unique vision of the world and warns about his social particularities, starting with his aversion for physical greetings or eye contact. Louis’ Shoes is Louis’ life through his eyes, in the scenario as much as in the angle choices. As a matter of fact, the shots are taken from the floor or at the child’s face level. The viewer knows Louis isn’t comfortable with making eye contact with people: that’s why the shots avoid the secondary protagonists’ gazes. In a few words, Louis’ Shoes is Louis’ life through his gaze.

"At the time, I didn't know I was autistic. But being different from others is no weirder than trying to fit into a mold".

- Louis ISSUE BLUE

|

51


R MAGAZINE

The schoolboy is sensitive to sounds, movements, light and to the unexpected. He has autism and needs anchors and rituals to feel at ease. What follows him from school to school are his blue Velcro shoes; they are this story’s narrative thread. He takes great care of them and “they are always here to put him back on his feet.” They help him withstand his sensory environment, especially at school, which is charged with stimulation. Saying Louis is lost without his shoes is not an understatement. His “mental palace”, the way it is represented in the film, darkens, and closes in on itself. The artists have explained that they chose the shoes as a reassuring object, as they symbolize walking and the path laying ahead. In five minutes, Louis displays, with a child’s voice, his universe in a poetic and melodic manner. He asks the viewer to discover and understand him. There is only empathy to be had for him. In the editorial review available on their website, the co-directors explain: “when the audience sees how Louis overcomes his troubles, with courage and genuineness, we’re hoping that it strikes a chord within people…even those who aren’t autistic, and that it’ll allow them to have the courage to accept and understand.” The challenge was passed with flying colors!

“ Being different is not weirder than wanting to fit a mold.”


Beyond this magnificent creative and aesthetic work, the four students have had to educate themselves on this syndrome. In addition to the vast research on the subject, they have met and collected the testaments of multiple people with autism. Louis has been imagined based on real-life experiences; which reinforces the feeling of authenticity and sensibility. Their colossal amount of work, by the way, has been applauded, since they were selected in sixty international festivals and have won seven awards. Among those is featured the 2021 Student Academy Awards gold medal, prestigious international student film contest, in the animation category.

Sensitive and endearing!

The ability to put oneself in someone else’s shoes seems to be more and more difficult in our modern world. In just a few minutes, every living being endowed with a beating heart is going to experience sympathy and empathy for Louis. Autism is, sometimes, difficult to define. This animation film is an excellent way to raise awareness in this regard. It would be a good idea to screen it in schools to open minds to difference and respect, but also to autistic people’s characteristics, on which most are little informed. This theme is specific, however, encouraging curiosity, interest for differenceand tolerance is universal. Go watch these four students’ beautiful work on their school’s website.

Very simple and for everyone! Bravo for this short film and long live Louis' blue scratch shoes... Very well done ISSUE BLUE

|

87


MUSIC

VIRGIE

AND THE “IN-BETWEEN WORLDS”

ISSUE BLUE

|

88


R MAGAZINE

TO BLOSSOM ARTI STI CALLY

VIRGINIE POIRIER ENOLA TIERTANT

Virginie Poirier, also known by the artist name Virgie, is an author-composerperformer but also an actor-singer and passionate co-author of musicals. She has had a connection to music and the stage for a very long time. Today, she’s able to flourish more and more artistically. She labels herself as an autistic artist. Thanks to her projects, she builds society’s and the world’s awareness of this difference and gives herself the means to make her dreams come true! Virgie declares her favorite color to be pink, which is a good insight on her personality: “some funkiness, some madness but also some seriousness and some steadiness.” During the interview, she talked about her “in-between worlds.” This expression is, first of all, the title of her musical, yet it also recounts “a bit of the parallel between the real and the imaginary, the contrast of various general rules but also of societal stakes as well as the exchange between two worlds, between two people, etc.” Her musical’s story develops around two characters, two worlds and a blooming romance: “Samuel Best ‘Bad Luck Sam’ and Heimay (a neurotypical girl whose destiny is uncertain), but also around a war and a curse between two parallel worlds which, without spoiling the whole story, evokes the main character’s sensory and psychological difficulties and their own dualities, due to how they perceive some things that are going to be staged in an excessive fashion to explain their issues with understanding others.”

ISSUE BLUE

|

89


R MAGAZINE

Her first artistic steps were within the “Papillons Bleus” (Blue Butterflies).

TO FLY AWAY

HER MEETINGS

She explains that being a part of this choir of disabled people in Montréal until the World Choral festival from 2003 to 2006 was “already a start and a victory in itself.” However, she opens up about how, despite everything, during that time, she already aspired to her desire to succeed and to flourish in her widescale personal projects. Her artistic journey became more and more intense as she grew up, particularly because she met Josée Lapierre. She was 20 years old when they met in the Magdalen Islands. These isles which are a good place to appreciate the calm and simplicity, but which also, like any other location, have their own flaws. Virgie was discovered there by a local journal who redirected her towards this infamous Josée Lapierre. In spite of the ups and downs, the latter has recognized her talent and a passionate collaboration was born between the two of them. During her experience in the Nightmare Before Christmas musical, directed by Josée Lapierre, she’s been able to learn a lot as much onstage with her secondary role as backstage while observing with the utmost discretion: “the opportunity to watch multiple spheres, in order to equip myself to write my own musical.” Virgie has also realized on set the hardships of the stage: “it’s harsh labor not always acknowledged at its full value.” One thing is for certain, this show has opened a great number of doors.

ISSUE BLUE

|

90


In private, Virgie has also confessed her biggest artistic dream: “to become well-known enough in the show-business to have my musicals become huge productions on Broadway as well as to sell my ideas for Disney movies, the round-eared giant.” That’s not all. She would also love to be of great help to people in need, whether it’s because of a lack of financial resources or of psychological or physical troubles: “these people with disabilities are often underpaid because of their motor difficulties and often live in isolation and poverty.” It would be in the context of a collaboration between several Quebecer companies where the goal would be to become selfsufficient. The artist also discusses her childhood. Very young and naïve, she made up complex melodies for herself that she hummed to seek refuge in sounds. It was what allowed her to feel peaceful and happy, so that she could ““survive” the outside world.” It’s later that she became aware of her talent and that she discovered her autism. Moreover, she adds, on the subject of her diagnosis, that “autism, like everything else, doesn’t have a defined sex, face, religion, age, sexual orientation, colour or race.” She also divulges what, for her, is the most important thing to do to go towards the acceptance of autism in our society: “I think that above all, the most important thing to provide to get the point across that neurodivergent people have the right to speak and to exist is to stop considering them as minorities (…). For example, allowing any disabled person to express themselves, to frequent public spaces as peacefully and normally as the general population does with

dignity, even if some need assistance and/or adjustments to their environment, to value better wages and better autonomy and living circumstances.” Virgie also opens up about her personal experience in that regard. She wants to contribute to autism’s cause by bringing “a dash of Disneyesque magic to this world I find almost “too serious” and “too protocol-bound”.” However, her main wish as an artist wasn’t to talk about autism; at the beginning, it was mostly an escape from her complicated personal life, a passion for musicals and a desire to make her paternal grandmother proud. The creator also talks about how she approaches music. She works like a true self-taught artist: “I do more or less everything acapella, having no knowledge, theoretical or academic and even less technical, of music. Not knowing how to write or read music, and not playing any instrument, I had to learn to bring out my sounds and to pass them onto musicians to solidify the melody.” A true musical sensitivity can be felt in her words! And precisely, this hypersensitivity to sound is “as much a blessing as it is a curse.” To create, it gives her a lot of advantages, but it unfortunately also brings her several hardships in her everyday life.

However, one thing is for certain, art for her really acts as therapy! “And if art was indeed more highly regarded, threefourths of psychological, mental and physical ailments most people in our society, and the whole world, go through, would be, in my opinion, fixed on a wide scale.”

ISSUE BLUE

|

91


R MAGAZINE

INVOLVEMENT

ELISE

PILOTE Dear readers, I would like to introduce you today to an inspiring person who is committed to Quebec's institutions. As part of Autism Awareness Month, she agreed to talk about her background and commitments. She highlights the challenges faced by people with Asperger's in the integration process. She shares her thoughts on the representation and integration of autism in the public sphere. Her name : Elise Pilote. Her duties : community activist, lecturer. She defines herself as an atypical person since she holds conferences on her Asperger's to make the authorities and the Quebec population aware of this subject.

A look at her background Elise told us that she was diagnosed with Asperger's autism in her teens, at 16. This diagnosis was the driving force behind her involvement in the association : She wants Quebec and Canadian society in general to evolve on issues of inclusion. She is currently training to be a medical archivist and is very involved in the cultural field.

inspiring and committed within Quebec institutions

Autism and public representation According to Elise, citizens with Asperger's are a valuable resource for redefining how institutions relate to people with neuro-atypia. She emphasizes the importance of links between autistic people and cultural and political institutions, to bring issues of inclusion into the public debate. In addition to the conferences Elise gives on the theme of autism, she is a member of the committee for the World March organized by Oxfam Quebec on May 6, 2022 in Montreal. This associative commitment represents an incredible opportunity to move from the situation to concrete action.

ISSUE BLUE

|

92


R MAGAZINE

Élise Pilote, Asperger's autistic, community activist and lecturer Autism and the R Magazine podcast Elise Pilote sees art and the R Magazine podcast as a wonderful opportunity to speak out. According to her, art is a space of expression that must be invested to give a voice, to offer visibility. The form of the podcast would contribute to gathering and disseminating more widely the concerns and questions of people with autism in the public space. Elise Pilote's portrait is symbolic of the road ahead for the inclusion of people with Asperger's. There is a need to consider the best possible strategies to facilitate their integration. Public policy decision-making processes and visibility in the cultural sector need to be invested in. If you want to know more about Elise Pilote, you can visit her blog where she shares her views on several topics.

Website

ADRIEN DI NICOLA

ISSUE BLUE

|

93


R MAGAZINE

COLLECTIF AUT’CRÉATIFS

MOVEMENT OF AUTISTIC PERSONS FOR THE POSITIVE RECOGNITION OF AUTISM


FOLDING

R MAGAZINE

E R I C

V I G I E R

THE MAD FOLDER


E V

While talking with Eric Vigier, you can be sure you won’t be bored for one moment! His world is his passion, and his enthusiasm is terribly contagious. His story mirrors the art of origami: I had to unfold it patiently so that I could share it with you. Eric Vigier has high-level, high-functioning autism. As a youth, his difference wasn’t visible and he told himself he had to live with it. It was when he reached adulthood and more specifically at work and in his love life, that his difficulties proved themselves to be bigger. At 30 years old, he started reading about autism, but he did not want to self-diagnose, as he had a job and a relationship. Despite being conscious of his difference since childhood, it was only at the age of 40 that he made the choice to confirm it through a diagnosis. When he began to dedicate more time to his art, he found himself, as he puts it, “in his bubble,” a behavior that he had encountered in his childhood. Some of his personality traits then re-emerged, including his impulsivity. He no longer had to wear a mask anymore. He says that he did not get diagnosed for himself, since he is very happy with who he is, but so that he could use his experience and story to help and get involved with other autistic people. By this way, he wants to show that this difference can be fruitful for oneself. That special interests become a positive force. He says that he accepts himself as he is, and even that he prefers to be autistic. Thanks to his diagnosis, “he could legitimize this difficult past, since this handicap exists, but it also exists in this society”.

When we describe to him the thinking of Temple Grandin, the way she explains it herself in her book Thinking in Picture, Eric Vigier notices many similarities. He then explains how thousands of facts about shapes and angles are compartmentalized, as well as all the mathematical data necessary to create his figures. All this data easily fits together for him, like pieces of a puzzle. Every new experiment finds its place within these boxes. He pictures every step of his work. He is very methodical and has the ability to visualize objects in three dimensions. Some of the characteristics associated with his autism help with his creations: “Fundamentally, origami is a very methodical art. The artist is usually alone in front of their art; an autistic person is very egocentric (in opposition to a narcissist), and that facilitates concentration.” This passion for origami started when he was 17 years old, watching the film Hard Boiled (1993), directed by John Woo. One particular scene marked Eric Vigier: in this very violent film, we can see a Japanese crane in the mist, a symbol of peace. Eric instantly wanted to recreate this folding. He told himself that the determination and involvement you find in autistic people is an advantage for him. He believes that twentyfive years of origami allowed him to bring things to their end.

ISSUE BLUE

|

96


O R I G A M I CELEBRATE HIS DIFFERENCE THROUGH HIS PASSION

THE ONLY TRANSFORMING ART

You’ll be amazed watching him on YouTube. A piece of paper turns under your very eyes into a beautiful turtle in 23 minutes. He speaks of origami as the only art of transformation and shares with us the magic of this art. The starting point is a 2D piece of paper, and the final point is a 3D work without any added elements or cuts. He sometimes slides hidden messages in his art, in which he describes his vision of the society he lives in. You can find the extent of this artistic research on Flickr. Our favourite piece is Walkyrie . An impression of movement comes out of it, as well as a great sensibility. In conclusion, he left us with an interesting thought: “Why not making people do the equivalent of military service, but for community service? Instead of learning how to kill people, we could learn to know them, and to help others.” After all, why not?

ADRIENNE SAURIOL

ISSUE BLUE

|

97


R MAGAZINE

AFTER APRIL,

Autism will always be there. So let's talk about it together!


WWW.R-MAGAZINE.CA

Follow us: