TTU School of Art to host ‘Unraveling Recognition: Autism and Prosopagnosia’

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(Nexstar Media Group/ Staff File Photo)

LUBBOCK, Texas (NEWS RELEASE) — The following is a news release from Texas Tech University:

Texas Tech University’s School of Art, housed within the J.T. & Margaret Talkington College of Visual & Performing Arts (TCVPA), will host “Unraveling Recognition: Autism and Prosopagnosia” virtually at 8 p.m. on April 29. This is a free event. 

Kelsey Forkner, an autistic artist, will share crocheted Irish lace portraits designed to unravel, speaking to her experience of face blindness, also known as Prosopagnosia. Forkner’s husband, Zachariah, also will share art and short narratives about personal experiences as they relate to autism and face blindness, media representations of autistic people and common misconceptions about autism. A short Q&A will follow. 

“Autistic artists aren’t rare,” Forkner said. “But the stigma about autism, disability and neurodiversity is ubiquitous. The narrative of what it’s like to perceive the world as an autistic person often comes from those who are neurotypical and is entrenched in paternalism and common misconceptions about autistic people as unfeeling and incapable of independence and close relationships. We often are portrayed in media as childlike, yet robotic, savants.” 

“Unraveling Recognition” is a part of TCVPA’s Arts in Action Micro-Grant Initiative, which strives to develop comprehensive programming promoting diversity, equity and inclusion. The initiative invites artists and scholars to reflect on the experiences of TCVPA students, other Texas Tech students and alumni. It investigates ways to employ artistic and scholarly processes and products to respond to such experiences and create a vision for progress and reflection. The funding TCVPA provides prioritizes projects crafted by and using the skills of the artists/scholars working together on projects that reflect lived experiences. 

“This isn’t a project about the entire autistic experience, but about one aspect of my own experience of face blindness,” Forkner said. “Face blindness causes difficulties in showing others I care for them and meeting social expectations, but it also offers a certain kind of liberation from focusing on appearance and allows me to know others by environments, by their choices and the characteristics of how they move, dress, smell, sound and what they talk about.” 

Forkner’s crocheted portraits are designed to be hard to read as faces. In sharing their unraveling, her own experience and talking with her husband about representation and their relationship, she hopes to give those who attend the event some insight into a different way of perceiving the world and an opportunity to freely ask questions. 

(News release from Texas Tech University)

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