For Autism Awareness and Acceptance Month 2017, I launched a call for artists on the autism spectrum to design the cover image for my nonfiction book, Bridging the Gap Between Learning and Living. After more than twenty years in the field, I am so sure that the ones benefiting the most from the world of autism are those of us, neurotypicals, who are in relationship with autistic people. When we are open to receiving it, an entire new perspective, joy, and insight into a different way of being awaits us. I could not think of a better illustrator for the book than an individual who has needed or needs the bridge built for him/ her.
I received immediate support from organizations with the best of intentions to highlight individuals' strengths and share positive opportunities. Thank you to The Art of Autism, AUCD - Autism Special Interest Group, Madison House Autism Foundation, the Hussman Institute for Autism, Autism Radio, National Autism Association, and ASAN. I am especially grateful to Autism Parenting Magazine for sharing the opportunity through their social media. I also became friends with the wonderful, Make-Studio in Baltimore and met some of the artists who create there. And it was the referral to an artist through Asperger's Experts that led me to the winning piece.
I have been deeply moved by how much the opportunity to share individuals' talent and interest in art has spread. I received artwork from children as young as three years old through adulthood. Students, parents, photographers, and siblings on behalf of artists contacted me. Locations ranged from throughout the the US to the UK, Ecuador, Ghana and Hong Kong. Thank you all.
I selected the original design work of an incredibly inspiring young woman, Moriah Sweitzer, from Tennessee, who considered the intention of the message of the book and put her heart and soul into an image. I am so touched by her contribution and feel honored to share her work and message with the world.
Moriah's words to accompany this artwork:
Trees have always been a symbol of life to me; I have always felt a deep affection for them. So when I was asked to draw the phrase, The Bridge Between Learning and Living, all I could think of was a Seed and a Tree. To me, the seed is a symbol for learning. You have to learn how to plant it, where to plant it, and how to nurture it so that it will thrive. It is a long, and at times, hard process. To me, the tree is the life that the seed produced. The strength of the tree, the fruit and beautiful flowers that come from the tree are all the result of all the time and energy, as well as love and care, that were invested into the seed. I also made the hand different colors to symbolize that a good life isn’t just for One person. A good life is something that we share with everyone around us. After all, it takes many trees to make a strong and beautiful forest.
Moriah can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org