Art represents a universal tool for understanding and expressing ourselves and the world around us. Especially when understanding and communication cannot be verbalized, it is art that provides us with a strong sense of belonging and identity. For decades now the art-making process has been acknowledged and used both as an effective therapeutic strategy, and as a privileged environment to facilitate communication and self-expression in developmentally disabled and/or neurodiverse individuals.
The arts, particularly visual arts, can enable individuals with autistic spectrum conditions or neurological disabilities to communicate and share their talent and ability, to convey their inner landscape, while affirming their own identity with a sense of engagement and accomplishment.
For these reasons, the David Arthur Foundation intends to acknowledge and present art programs and practices, in New York City and beyond, that advocate the artistic creativity of neurodiverse individuals who, like all artists, use imagination to give voice to their inner universes and selves.
We believe that art making is an act of creation and expression not defined by the neurological process that might have originated it, and even when the aesthetics results distinctive because envisioned by individuals in the autistic spectrum or with other developmental disabilities, it is not at all dissimilar from art produced and shown in mainstream studios and galleries. As autistic artist Westley Cedeno lucidly affirms: «What inspires me to create art is the vibrancy of colors, hues, and the representation of different textures. In addition, I love to create, experiment, and be open with the arts. Anything in art is valid». And this is precisely it.
Franca Di Valerio, DAF Art Curator
Franca di Valerio is an independent museum consultant and art curator based in New York City, whose area of expertise are museology, history of collecting, and provenance/repatriation of cultural patrimony worldwide. She holds a M.A. Summa cum Laude awarded by the University of Bologna (Italy).
Franca has been working for a variety of prominent museums, cultural institutions, and nonprofit organizations such as the Smithsonian Institution-National Museum of the American Indian (Washington, D.C. and New York), the Rubin Museum of Art, the World Monuments Fund, and the Fetzer Institute (Kalamazoo-Michigan) as curator of the Advisory Council on the Arts.
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