I have been thinking for quite a while about how to assemble a set of visual ideas, thought out in previous posts, about my brother Michael. Much of my blog has been devoted to Mike, my older brother, who is autistic, low functioning and nonverbal (see almost any of my posts from January to November 2013). I have not been successful in communicating with him on a meaningful level. In rudimentary ways he has let me know his physical needs by: leading my by the hand to food, when he was hungry; taking my hand and putting it on the doorknob, when he wanted to go outside. But he would do the same thing for any caretaker; I am nothing special to him. A brother should be something special to another brother.
I have spent 60+ years doing my best to understand him through: reading about autism and the brain; journalling my thoughts and experiences; and finally making visual images. My first images came from my long-term photography project, during which I spent much time with him at his group home and other venues (see Photography Show posts Review of Photographs of My Brother, My First Show, Familiar Relations); and later (as revealed in this blog) from many different visual approaches to depicting my brother and my vision of our relationship (‘real’ and imagined).
Among the images contributing to my icon maze are:
- Young Mike (Michael, My Older Brother);
- Mike’s eye looking right at me: A startling image to me, as I was never quite sure whether Mike paid attention to me (The Other Mike);
- Mike’s eye looking away from me: His eyes seldom looked in the same direction at the same time (The Other Mike);
- Mike’s surprisingly delicate gestures at times (Gestures as Icons; More About Gestures);
- Mike’s self violence: He frequently hit himself and bit his hand (Mike’s Moods, From Photograph to Abstract Expression);
- Various stylized and schematic representations I developed of my brother and me (Planes of Unreality; All Feelings are OK, Motor Tic, Returning to Mike).
I realize that the amount of material I presented in the above links is overwhelming. One of the most difficult parts of creating artwork and expressing specific feelings, is editing the visual elements down to the most important ones; or organizing many images into a coherent whole.
I had the work of Paul Klee in mind when I began this study. I wanted the my visual icons arranged in a way so that their visual sum would be more than the sum of the constituent individual images.