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Art tour a platform for talents of people with autism, disabilities

2017/10/07 21:48:41

Chung Hua-hsuan

Taipei, Oct. 7 (CNA) An art exhibition tour that opened in Taiwan Saturday is giving people with autism and disabilities the chance to have their voices heard and talents discovered, according to artists whose works appear in the show.

The tour features the 41 winning paintings, drawings and photographs in an art competition for people with autism, intellectual disabilities or multiple disabilities held earlier this year by the Autism Society of Taiwan.

Those works will be accompanied by paintings by award-winning autistic artists Kao Chin-yu (高進宇) and Chung Hua-hsuan (鐘華瑄), who goes by the pseudonym Cook Baron, Autism Society of Taiwan head Kuo Chin-cheng (郭金城) said Saturday.

The 23-year-old Chung, who has mild autism, was named a recipient of this year's Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the Republic of China (Taiwan), an award that is given annually in recognition of exceptional achievements by young people in various fields.

Chung said the exhibition tour gives autistic people like her a valuable channel for getting exposure and recognition.

"The public still lacks a sufficient understanding of autistic people," she said. "I'm lucky because I can speak for myself, but most autistic people are not that lucky and they can only express themselves with the help of other people or through their art."

She will showcase 10 of her drawings from her "Gem-Jellyfish" series, which are created from color brush pens.

The gem-jellyfish concept was chosen "because gems are hard and have colors, while jellyfish are transparent and soft-bodied. I thought the combination might be beautiful," she told CNA.

(Chung Hua-hsuan's drawings; from the exhibition manual)

Many of the exhibited works drawn from the Autism Society's competition are by children and teenagers, who reveal themselves in their art.

One of them is nine-year-old Hank Lin, who has mild autism. His drawing, which won first place in the elementary school category, depicts race cars running on an auto racing track.

"I began to like cars when I was seven. I drew race cars because my dream is to become a racer when I grow up," the student from Changhua County's Da-Cheng Elementary School told CNA.

Lin said he learned how to drew cars by watching online auto racing videos and reading encyclopedias about cars.

(Hank Lin)

Hsiao En-chin (蕭恩晉), a 14-year-old student with moderate autism, won first place in the adolescent category with his crayon drawing titled "Motherly Love," which depicts a mother penguin and a baby penguin.

Hsiao said he loves to draw because it helps him remember important things in his life.

(Hsiao En-chin)

Lee Wan-yun (李宛芸), a 16-year-old student with an intellectual disability, said she entered the competition because she loves drawing and playing gyro. Her drawing, about gyros, won third place in the adolescent category.

Autism Society head Kuo said there are currently over 13,600 people on the autism spectrum in Taiwan, according to official figures, but despite the increasing number of people diagnosed with autism, Taiwan's public has little understanding of the disorder.

"Because autistic patients experience difficulty in social interactions and language communication, it is difficult for the general public to understand their feelings and thoughts, leading to misunderstanding or a lack of tolerance," he said.

"We welcome everyone to visit the exhibition and learn about the unique life experience and the truest thoughts and feelings of every autistic patient through their works," Kuo said.

(opening ceremony)

A majority of the works, including the paintings by Chung, will go on display at the Taipei Metro Jiangzicui Station in New Taipei from Saturday until Nov. 30.

Beginning at the end of October, some of the works will tour the Taipei City Parent-child Center, Taipei City Xinyi District Office, Household Registration Office in Taipei's Songshan District, and Song Shan High School of Commerce and Home Economics in Taipei, where they will be exhibited alongside other works by artists with disabilities from previous years.

(By Christie Chen)