16 April 2015: Artistic – Who I am is how you choose to see me

Frankie would draw, and I would speak. He would dance, and I would sing. Art is his vessel, and I am his voice; we co-exist. – Angelina Lim

Artistic AutisticThis week’s featured book, Artistic — Who I Am Is How You Choose To See Me may be short on words, but it is about many things. It is an insight of sorts into the mind of a special person. It is also about the special bond between siblings. Most of all, it is about love, perseverance and compassion. It is the story of an autistic boy, Frankie, who expresses himself through his art, and of his older sister Angelina, who interprets his art into poetry. She describes his drawings as“innocent, brutally honest, yet so simple. Every piece tells a story and sometimes, it expresses how he is feeling.” To the casual observer, Frankie’s line drawings resemble the hybrids found in mythology, like the manticore, lamassu and griffin. Look again, and they seem to serve as silent beacons hiding a plethora of emotions: happiness, sadness, anger, joy and celebration.

autismAngelina understands her brother’s art and the profound meanings behind them. “I will be his vessel and his voice. To change minds and convince the world that there is nothing wrong with being autistic.” Her poetry, stark, simple and genuine, struggles to convey the meaning of his creations to others around him. Her lines speak of the frustration to makes others see how Frankie sees things.

According to research, an estimated one out of every 600 children in Malaysia is born with autism. It is an affliction which recognizes no racial, ethnic or socioeconomic barriers. One expert believes that Asian society sees autism as a disease and as socially unacceptable. Their sense of smell, sound and touch are especially hyper-acute and they “experience life as a badly dubbed foreign movie.” No two children with autism are ever completely alike.

Artistic — Who I Am Is How You Choose To See Me was launched recently at Suffolk House, Penang. Some 50 paintings by Frankie were also exhibited during the launch and sold for charity.

Artistic — Who I Am Is How You Choose To See Me is now available from Areca Books at RM22 per copy.