Performance Art Manages Life with Autism

La Trobe University will mark World Autism Awareness Day on 2 April with the launch of a month-long exhibition, Expend, produced by a Melbourne artist on the autism spectrum.

Fine artist, singer and autism advocate Prue Stevenson will produce the core artwork for the exhibition in an onsite performance piece. She will dip her bare feet in paint and deliver hundreds of Taekwondo kicks to a stretched canvas on the gallery wall. As a 3rd Dan Black Belt in Taekwondo, Prue practices 12 hours a week and sees a direct connection between her martial and visual arts.

“Taekwondo helps me maintain my energies at a level that reduces my feelings of anxiety. I use repetitive, mundane activities to help manage these energy levels, associated with the over sensory symptoms of autism,” Ms Stevenson said.

The exhibition is a collaboration between La Trobe’s Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre and the La Trobe Art Institute. For many people with autism, art is a vital tool, not only for self-expression, but for managing aspects of the condition’s sensory overload that can prove challenging.

Expend will be presented in the Borchardt Library on the Bundoora, Melbourne campus, alongside two of Stevenson’s other works. Oil painting ‘Without Words 1’ was produced during an extreme anxiety attack. ‘By-Product (Embrace It)’ is an unfinished knitted scarf which the artist continues to add to, and displays on gallery walls in the shape of the phrase ‘Embrace It’.

Stevenson will also speak about the role her art plays in creating meaningful dialogue around autism, at the La Trobe Art Institute’s Bendigo gallery.

Exhibition and Artist Talk Details

Expend runs from 1 April to 21 May 2017, in the Writer’s Block Cafe, Borchardt Library, La Trobe University Bundoora. [Library Map]

Stevenson will speak at the La Trobe Art Institute in Bendigo on Thursday 4 May at 5.30pm. Free bookings on Eventbrite.

About the Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre (OTARC)

Established in 2008, OTARC is Australia’s first research centre dedicated to autism spectrum disorders and is committed to creating lifelong positive outcomes and equal access to life's opportunities for people with autism. A key part of OTARC’s mission is raising the public profile of autism research and educating the community about the challenges, talents and perspectives of adults on the autism spectrum.

Image: Prue Stevenson preparing her canvas, for performance art piece 'Expend'.