Caroline Bell

Artist Statement

For as long as I can remember, when someone would ask me who my best friend was, the person always at the top of my list was my brother, Matthew. He’s funny, quirky, always wanted to copy what I was doing, and he has autism. When I was young, I had no idea what that meant or what it was; he was just my brother and my best friend.

As I got older, I learned more. I saw his struggles. His struggles with sensory intake, especially in the areas of how he heard things and the textures of what he felt and tasted. I saw him have to struggle with bullies who picked on him because he was “different” and that was heartbreaking. He does struggle socially, and it takes a lot for him to make and trust someone enough to be considered a good friend, but when he does, they are a friend for life.

Along with the struggles of autism, I also witnessed the beauty. The peace and calmness he can find, how he absorbs information like a sponge and is smarter than most people I know. Most importantly, the way he treats others is beautiful.  He doesn’t judge or critique or analyze people. He accepts them just the way they are.
His most significant worry in life is that people will not understand his ways of acting. I believe that he has so much to teach the world. My parents tell me that I have been such a positive role model for him, but I think it goes both ways.

I work in a wide variety of media in my work, such as printmaking, fibers, metals, digital illustration, sculpture and animation to mimic Autism’s many different shapes and forms. It’s essential that my work takes many forms because not one case of autism is the same. My body of work is about the relationship I have with my younger brother with Autism and how we have shaped both of our viewpoints to the world around us. One of the most significant pieces in my current body of work is the comic book that I illustrated based on my younger brother’s narrative based off of a phone call we had. This was the longest conversation my brother has probably ever had, and it was easily the most animated he has ever been. With that being said, this is vital because it’s hard to hold a conversation with him. My animation mimics how he takes in everything at the same level. I want the viewer to get a better understanding of how he perceives the information in the world around him.