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Prue’s feet-first approach to art and autism


Posted on 24 April 2017 under News

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A huge canvas, black paint, bare feet and a black belt in taekwondo.

Bring them together and you have Expend, a powerful art work that involves Prue Stevenson dipping her bare feet in paint and delivering hundreds of taekwondo “axe” kicks to a stretched canvas mounted on a gallery wall.

This is not just a compelling expression of Prue’s passions for art and sport, but also an extraordinary insight into managing the excess energy and anxiety created by autism.

While each person with autism has a unique set of challenges, some experience sensory overload from daily activities.

Prue delivers a swift kick. Image by Dominik Krupinski

Some manage this through self-stimulatory behaviours (also known as ‘stimming’), such as spinning, rocking, pacing or flapping of arms or hands.

Prue has developed a highly individual way of incorporating stimming into her art practice.

She practices taekwondo 12 hours a week and sees a direct connection between her martial and visual arts, believing that both practices “are very much about transferring negative energy into positive energy”.

Prue recently enacted her serial performance piece, Expend, for a three-artwork exhibition at La Trobe’s Bundoora Campus.

The Expend exhibition is on show until May 21 in the Writers Block Cafe, La Trobe University.

Art and the transfer of energy

The result of Prue linking art and identity has resulted in an extraordinary body of work, with Prue showcasing “how to have fun with the creativity and unique perspectives of autism”.

“I started my Masters (Fine Arts) this year and I’m working really hard on exploring my senses and how I can make being autistic more socially acceptable,” Prue says.

“I’m working on a project called Stim Your Heart Out which is about making stimming a socially acceptable behaviour.

“Combining various mediums of my artistic practice and physical pursuits as a method of engaging the world in meaningful dialogue, my works often reflect a yoking together of body and mind.”

Prue shares her insight: Spectrospective 2017

Prue, a widely-respected autism self-advocate, student at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, singer and 3rd dan taekwondo black belt, has offered brilliant commentary on autism and art in Spectrospective 2017, Amaze’s contribution to World Autism Awareness Day/Month.

Along with Alex Aulich from La Trobe’s Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre (OTARC), she will present Prue Stevenson on Art and Autism at the La Trobe Art Institute on May 4.

At Prue Stevenson on Art and Autism, Alex will discuss the work of the OTARC and Prue will talk about artistic practice and autism. A film of the performance will be screened at this event.

Tickets to this talk are free. Register for tickets here.

Expend Exhibition Details

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

Prue Stevenson on Art and Autism

About the Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre

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.

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