Working with the Young Outsider Artist: Appropriation, Elaboration, and Building Self-Narrative



An exploration into the art process and art productions of children who are not considered “typical” have traditionally been accommodated using adaptive learning and behavioral programs to compensate for their disability (Henley, 1992, Wexler, 2009). An exception may be the rarest of sub-populations, who, despite their conditions, operate with some success on the “edges” of social and mental norms. Often affiliated with those on the autistic spectrum, some children possess “islands of ability,” implies a savant-like capacity to display discrete areas of giftedness. The case of Nadia, is the most noteworthy as she was severely disabled yet somehow able to draw, beginning at age five, with astounding skill and with a verve compared to Daumier, Delacroix, and other masters of art history (Selfe, 1977, Winner, 1982). Inexplicably Nadia’s drawing abilities vanished after age eight, once she received speech therapy and suffered the traumatic loss of her mother. She is among the most notable examples of the autistic child Outsider, whose idiosyncratic gift evaporated once her internal world was disturbed by therapeutic intervention. The author observed her as a twenty year old in Britain and found a regression so sweeping that she could then barely draw at the level of a seven year old (Henley1989a). The creative and fragility endemic to this population is a cricitcal issue that runs throughout the narrative.


Autistic Child Transitional Object Transitional Phenomenon Transitional Space Outer Reality 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Alice Wexler 2012

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