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Poe Park Visitor Center: Autism Awareness Month Exhibition

April is Autism Awareness Month. The Poe Park Visitor Center proudly presents its virtual exhibition for Autism Awareness Month with Parks@Home. Works submitted express the voices and experiences of individuals living on the spectrum.

About Poe Park Visitor Center

Poe Park Visitor Center is a community hub at Poe Park in the Bronx that offers art, literature, fitness, and community events. Due to the pandemic, the center is closed until further notice and the gallery has temporarily moved online. 

Ira Birch

Artist Statement: Our geography is defined by roads and landmarks, but a myriad of overlooked space lies in between. There's a class of people that spend their lives tucked comfortably into bushes, sleeping in vehicles, exploring decrepit factories, painting in collapsing cottages on the edge of town. These spaces are often seen as a failing of society and the people that occupy them are often invisible. But the inhabitants of these corners of the world are actively exploring and designing their environment. And the spaces are often beautiful.

I depict liminal and transitory spaces and how they are shaped by (and how they shape) their inhabitants.

Photo of a shirtless individual bent over as they walk up a walkway to house surrounded by leafless trees during winter

Cy

2500 x 1667, photography, 2011

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Photo of a shirtless individual bent over as they walk up a walkway to house surrounded by leafless trees during winter
An individual looks off to the side while sitting in front of a painting with swirling lines in various colors
An individual stands in a boat of water placed in a grassy landscape where other boats and cars are parked or left abandoned
An individual sits in a room surrounded by art and musical instruments, including guitars and cellos.
An individual sits on the bed while looking out a window covered by white curtains
An individual sits on the floor below an artwork that features graffiti-like writings
An individual works on materials in a room and there is an image of an individual holding up their hand as if to say hi on the wall

About the artist: Ira Birch is an interdisciplinary artist and creative technologist focusing on the politics of space and placemaking. They are influenced by the social disconnect of being autistic, nonbinary, and on the fringes of society in years of traveling, often on foot or by freight train. The artist attempts to depict and create spaces for the people that feel uncomfortable or unable to survive in the mainstream reality. They are inspired by transitory spaces inhabited and shaped by marginalized and creative people, and actions and events that influence "public space" to become truly public.

Various Artists: Isolation Nation

Isolation Nation is a multi-disciplinary film made by disabled and neurodivergent artists in response to the pandemic. The film explores the now, the before, and the imaginary future that lies ahead. Using the concept of time travel, our artist collective utilizes our lived experiences of disability and neurodivergence, in order to conceive of a more equitable, loving, and radically accessible space, both real and virtual. We destabilize notions of touch, productivity, and time in an attempt to amplify the existing bonds of disabled mutuality and leadership. Artists: Alex, Arianna, Brad, Cathy, Elizabeth, Johnny, Jordan, Mara, Maria, Max, Mike, Paris, Rayna, Uriel, Wesley. 

 

About the artists: Isolation Nation is a loose collection of artists who came together to explore the impact that the pandemic had asserted on our everyday experiences. We spent six weeks working in our preferred media to respond to the conditions of our current and previous lives as a means of transforming a possible future that is led by the wisdom of our organic expertise.

Gloria Zapata

Artist Statement: Working with models and dancers is a passion that has grown within me for art and photography — to capture a portrait or movement of dancers who brought life to a story with their creativity and healing. Working with beautiful people from the community not only brought out more of my vision but also pushed me to challenge my creativity. Being a photographer, I work hard on creativity and telling a story. When people see my work, I would like for them to embrace the beauty and movement in the photographs. I work with models and dancers, and I enjoy every moment and painting beautiful symbolic art on their bodies as a canvas. The challenge is sometimes sharing a story that is personal to you, for example, my “Autism Awareness” images are dedicated to all the beautiful families and friends and for acceptance of people with Autism. My accomplishments are for my work to speak, not only for me but also for the community. I just want to use my passion for photography to show the world that beauty can be found in anything. I want to raise awareness and make an impact on the generations to come by creating artwork that can tell stories that help to heal others.

A heart made of puzzle pieces is drawn on the back of the model, the words "your" is written on the left arm and the word "amazin" is written on the right arm.

Autism Power Model - Jasmine Lopez

16 x 20, print, 2018

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A heart made of puzzle pieces is drawn on the back of the model, the words "your" is written on the left arm and the word "amazin" is written on the right arm.
A dancer wearing red pants leaps into the air
Individuals with fabric in various colors covering their faces stands in formation on a bridge

About the artist: Gloria Zapata is a photographer, teaching assistant at the International Center of Photography, and an art instructor at Bronx YMCA (Antonia Pantoja Preparatory Academy). 

Various Artists, Institue of Applied Human Dynamics of NY

About IAHDNY: The Institute for Applied Human Dynamics has committed to positively impact the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. The art program is one of many programs at IAHD that is helping to enrich the lives of many individuals. The program gives participants a platform in which to express themselves while developing skills that will enable them to display their work alongside that of working artists. This enables them to showcase their talent and ability to an otherwise exclusive community, integrating their work with that of their peers. These pieces were selected and curated by the program's Creative Arts Coordinator, Johnny Mattei.

weaving of yellow and blue yarn form the background for a pink, blue, yellow, and white flower made by yarn and placed in a frame

Sunset by Elizabeth Quarshie

Elizabeth, a native of Ghana, a self-advocate who, like her peers, is learning to find her voice. She likes to spend her time weaving and making art, as well as socializing with family and friends. Elizabeth is always open to learning new art techniques and has recently started to experiment with weaving on wooden frames. Sun Set is the first of the series, she has since branched into larger frames.

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black and white drawings of a shark, octopus, horseshoe crab, and other underwater creatures are placed in a landscape of grass and mountains next to an individual with an egg head

Crazy Mountain by Jeffrey Villagante

Jeffrey is a visual artist from the Philippines with a lively sense of humor; one can see his playful nature in his latest montage work Crazy Mountain. Drawing inspiration from the movie Men In Black, Jeffery wanted to create a piece to showcase his love of movies and which would give the viewer permission to enjoy the silly sides of themselves. Doing so, he hopes to convey a bit of his humorous side and his wish for people not to take life so seriously.

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drawing in white of a succulent in a flower pot against a blue background

Flower Pot by Brian Reyes

Brian is a visual artist who can be found immersing himself in his work, often for hours at a time. Brian has found a distinct voice through his use of visual art as a means of communicating his experiences. He recently had the opportunity to take a printmaking workshop where he was able to apply his drawing style to create beautiful interpretations using foam prints. Brian is an observational artist who creates his works based on the world around him, as evident in his latest piece 'Flowerpot'.

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inkblot artwork in pastel colors reminiscent of a Rorschach test

Untitled by Mary Ann Parsons

Mary Ann Parsons possesses a natural talent for art, looking at her work one would think she has had formal training. Mary Ann uses organic forms to create abstract compositions. Mary Ann is a humble artist; when asked about her work she replies, "I am just trying things out". Mary Ann’s latest piece is like looking through a nebulous kaleidoscope.

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red circles against a yellow background combine to form the outline of a dog

Dog by Edward Glover

Edward is a naturally gifted artist with a smile that lights up a room. Edward creates pieces that reflect his calm and caring personality; one can see this in his current works. Edward Glover continues to explore new artistic techniques thus growing as an artist. Edward's piece 'Dog' pays homage to Keith Haring.

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pieces of papers with numbers and writing are affixed to a black blotch of paint on a piece of cardboard that is placed upon a painting of orange, blue, and gray brushstrokes

Basquiat by Sha’asia Moore

Sha'asia is a visual artist with a talent for creating tactile experiences on canvas. Sha’asia loves immersing herself in conversation and has a deep love of music and dancing. Creating art helps Sha’asia finds her center, it is the way that she finds peace within herself.

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drawings of cars are aligned in the frame, some cars are painted pink, blue, or green while the others are left unpainted

Cars by Miguel Massanet

Miguel's work is a visual homage to his lifelong passion for vintage cars. His art channels this love of all things automobile, ranging from car shows displaying mint condition cars to remodeling older models. Miguel spends much of his free time sketching, art for him is an outlet for expressing his interests.

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two individuals hold onto an object held above a flowering plant as they stand under the sky of the full moon, stars, and cotton balls for clouds

Frida by Gretchen Ellison

Gretchen is a visual artist who uses a multitude of references to create her works using different media, such as drawings and paintings. She incorporates text and texture into her work to create an interpretation of the world around her that calls to mind folk artists like Clementine Hunter. Like Hunter, Gretchen brings a unique perspective to her work that brings each piece to life. Gretchen has been a Visiting Artist at the IAHD’s Dynamic Arts Gallery, where she hosted a drawing and collage creating an event for the community. Ms. Ellison attends the IAHD Bainbridge Day Habilitation Program, where she continues to deepen the exploration of her creative gifts. Gretchen enjoys coffee and fashion.

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