Embracing Neurodiversity: 6 Incredible Autistic Artists to Follow

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Erin Eby
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Published on Apr 05, 2024

As we recognize Autism Awareness Month, celebrating the diverse creative talents and perspectives of individuals on the autism spectrum is especially important. Art has always been a powerful medium for self-expression and human connection, and, for many autistic artists, it gives them a voice that would otherwise go unheard or misunderstood.

In that spirit, I’d like to spotlight a few neurodivergent artists who have inspired me and are making waves in the art world with their creativity and vision. From mesmerizing paintings to intricate installations, their artwork not only showcases their unique talents but also challenges stereotypes and promotes acceptance of neurodiversity. Let’s check them out!

Tails Jekel
IG: @tailsjekel_art
TT: @tailsjekel_art

Contemporary artist Tails Jekel is renowned for their thought-provoking and visually captivating artworks that challenge conventional norms and perceptions. Through a unique blend of surrealism and abstraction, Jekel's work explores themes of identity, human connection, and the intersection between reality and imagination. To me, their work has an otherworldly quality reminiscent of Klimt that just reaches deeply into my soul. Aside from the breathtaking visual beauty, one of my favorite things about Jekel’s work is the thought-provoking themes that spark their creations, which they share openly on social media. One, for example: “Imagine you are in a room with 100 people. Somehow, everybody is assigned a number. One is the best person, 100 is the worst. What number do you think you would have, and why?” Like a well-crafted creative brief, Jekel’s themes for their work stir my emotions and inspire my own creative thinking.

Megan Rhiannon
IG: @petite_gloom

Megan Rhiannon is an autistic illustrator residing in London. Her work is inspired by her day-to-day experiences and reflections, much of which relates to her neurodifferences. Rhiannon’s illustration style is primarily depictive, line-based drawings of people and things in her life, often accompanied by diary-style reflections in her own first-person voice. I find her drawings to be interestingly “hollow” but very authentic and vulnerable at the same time. This quality may be due in part to Rhiannon’s aphantasia, which she describes as “the complete lack of the ability to think visually.” Rhiannon also sells affordable art cards to support people with autism, which she calls “Gloomies: Charms, affirmations, and manifestations for a weary existence.”

Anna Berry
IG: @weeannabee
X: @weeannabee

Anna Berry describes herself in her artist’s statement as “a middle-aged, self-taught, disabled outsider.” Still, despite her self-effacing humor, she’s a tremendously talented artist across a number of domains—from sculpture/installation to photography to writing and orating. Much of her work explores how we experience reality and the world around us, and some are socially or politically conscious. Berry says, “I find my artwork is vocational and rather compulsive—it’s my way of trying to find an interface with an otherwise alienating world.”

Jon Adams
X: @soundcube

Jon Adams is a contemporary artist and researcher whose diverse body of work spans various mediums, including sound, visual art, and performance. Drawing on his experiences with autism, synesthesia, and dyslexia, Adams intertwines personal history, science, and time to offer a unique visual perspective on recording history and place. With a background in geology and a passion for conceptual artwork, he has been recognized for his socially engaged creativity, often tackling challenging themes. Adams has been commissioned by prestigious organizations and institutions, such as the Royal Society for Arts and the Autism Research Centre at the University of Cambridge. He advocates for neurodivergent rights and accessibility in the arts, leading initiatives like Flow Observatorium, which promotes neurodivergent artists and culture internationally. Adams's contributions to the field include a Neurodivergent Arts Manifesto and a report on barriers to arts engagement for neurodivergent individuals, published by Arts Council England.

Stephen Wiltshire
IG: @stwiltshire
YT: @stephenwiltshire

Stephen Wiltshire, a celebrated architectural artist, gained fame for his astonishing ability to recreate cityscapes in intricate detail after just brief observations. Broadly recognized for his contributions to the visual arts, his works are displayed in prestigious museums worldwide. Despite being nonverbal as a child, Wiltshire found solace in drawing, eventually mastering speech through his artistic passion. Wiltshire was dubbed "Britain's best child artist" by Royal Academy of Arts President Sir Hugh Casson, and he continues to inspire with his dedication to his craft, sketching daily and living by his own mantra, “Do the best you can and never stop.” Reading about Wiltshire and studying his awe-inspiring works reminds me that with determination and passion, possibilities are boundless.

Niam Jain
IG: @niamjain_artist
YT: @NiamJain6661

Niam Jain, a young, award-winning abstract artist from Toronto, Canada, expresses himself through his vibrant paintings despite being mostly nonverbal due to autism. His artworks, layered with acrylic on canvas, offer a glimpse into his daily experiences and unique perspective on the world. Jain is entirely self-taught, yet his technique is praised by experts, who often compare his work to legends such as Pollock and Riopelle. One thing that strikes me about his work is how textural it is; the layers of paint create not just a feast of color but also a near-sculptural quality that enriches the work. His work has garnered media attention and has been exhibited in prestigious venues, showcasing his rising talent and compelling story as an emerging artist.

By embracing the diverse ways in which individuals perceive and experience the world, we can break down barriers, challenge stereotypes, and promote understanding and acceptance. In the arts especially, neurodiverse perspectives enrich creative expression, leading to groundbreaking discoveries and pushing the boundaries of artistic innovation. Embracing neurodiversity creates a more vibrant and inclusive cultural landscape for all to enjoy and participate in.