I heard someone once ask another person, what was so important about art. I was younger at the time, and didn’t quite know how to put my words together in a way that would make others understand what I was saying (okay I still have trouble doing that, but never mind) I can’t remember how the conversation started, even less how it ended. I do remember though, thinking about what art was for me, and how others perceive it. I never really thought that there were other people with a different perception of art, and that some even think its meaningless. Well, today I have an answer for them, for the ones who think less of art. I would say, without art we are nonexistent, as art is everything that is creation, and so are we.
Art is the most wonderful thing out there. Of course I would be saying this, I am an artist. But rather than to see it this way, I prefer to give myself a little more credit and think that even if I weren’t an artist, I would love art as much as I do being an artist. I would enjoy it, appreciate it, and promote it, just as much. I would let myself get sucked into it, and see that life is not as complicated as we make it, yet it is complicated because we make it. I know it might sound like I’m babbling about something I don’t quite know myself, however, I do feel this way when I come in contact with anything that is art.
Recently I have discovered, thanks to a dear friend, one of the most touching animated-short films that tells the world of Maria, an autistic teenager. I have to say, up until now I didn’t really know much about Autism. I have family that suffer from this disease and, I respect a great deal the parents that have to raise a child with autism, but I really never got much involvement in it. Well, thanks to art, the Orange Foundation, and the incredible, talented cartoonist behind the short “El Viaje de Maria” (I would translate it as “Maria’s Voyage”) I have become more aware of autism and the children suffering from it.
I see things like this animated-short and I tell myself; This is what makes art so important. Because we can communicate, so clearly, the hardest things to understand.
The author of this short is in fact the father of Maria, Miguel Gallardo. I don’t know much about him, just that he is from Barcelona, Spain. Also, the short has been nominated for the Goya awards under the category for best documentary. I hope it wins, its and excellent sweet story, beautifully told.
Here is the short “El Viaje de Maria” by, Miguel Gallardo ( I will translate for those that don’t speak Spanish, hopefully it would be a good translation)
Here is the translation by, Laura V. Padron
Maria was not delivered by a stork. Maria came from a far away planet, like Superman. It took her nine months to get home; and when she finally did, she fell right asleep. Right away, Maria became the joy of the house. But soon enough, we realized something was happening to her. She did not seem to notice her surroundings, nor hear us. She would not reciprocate our gestures of affection; it was as if she lived in a world of her own… without a link to ours. Instead of playing with her toys, she would lined them up, like in a parade. Just like the Doctors that started visiting her, each one with their own opinion; each one with a different diagnosis. We too, traveled far in search of answers that came after so much time (AUTISM). In that journey, we had as partners the other parents. With whom we shared sadness, happiness, and experiences.
Maria now lives in Canarias, she is fifth-teen and a solete (could mean she is brilliant, or that she is lovable. I’m not too sure as it seems to be a slang word from Canarias) Our world keeps being too difficult for her, so she needs to organize it to live in it. In her head, everything is classified. In very good order! A box for every single thing! Unforeseen situations, make her very anxious, and too help her in those moments, we use pictograms that help her establish the routines.
For example, a common day: 8hrs15 wake up; 8hrs30 dress up; 8hrs45 breakfast; at 9:00, go to school; 14 hours, come back home; 17hrs to the park; 18hrs30 a snack; 19hrs30 play with her little pieces of papers; 20hrs shower; 20hrs30 dine; 21hrs brush her teeth and to bed until next day. Also, Maria has difficulty accomplishing the simplest things (book’s title: Life, User Manual); like tying her shoes; or zipping her jacket; showering by herself; making a phone call; or simply opening a can of anchovies; turning on the TV; or putting the emergency jacket on, well… not even I know that one. But she also has super powers, like Superman. Super-concentration to eat! Super-charisma to hypnotize people with a smile! Super-vision to tear paper into very small pieces! And must of all, Super-memory! In her head, there is space for the names of people she has once met, those names always go with her and are her world map. Is the list she repeats over and over again, and make of the world a safe place.
In real life, a lot of things happen in an instant, people talk all the time, and move too fast. Their faces express emotions that for Maria are hard to understand. She accepts everything at once in an aggressive and confusing way. The only way to defend herself, is to take refuge in her universe. A place to where only she may enter, and exit. Well, as well as her imaginary friends, those with whom she laughs when no one is watching her. In that special place, Maria finds protection in her repetitive games, with sand or with the small pieces of paper; Or simply by watching the water fall. Thanks to those moments, Maria calms the anguish provoked by the rules she can’t understand.
When we are with Maria, we try not to think much of the future, just live by the moment. We want to see her happy; that she learns little by little to become independent; and that she keeps remembering the name of every person. When Maria is with us, she makes of the world a better place. THE END.
Hope this translation is clear. I’m off!!