In the late summer of last year, we as a family applied for a grant, which was available to families with children that had been diagnosed with an ASD. The grant was for $100 and could be used towards a camp or pass to a family event. We received the $100 grant and we in turn requested a family pass to the Art Gallery of Hamilton. Today, Jacob and I, made our first visit.
When Jacob and I departed for the AGH, around 1 PM it was pretty cold and grey. The AGH is about a half hour walk from where we live, but it wasn't too bad once we started walking. Jacob was very excited about going. "What's at the art gallery dad?" I left Jacob in suspense and didn't really explain about the exhibits. Once we arrived, immediately we saw displays of art. There were these beautiful glass bottles on display and they looked almost like Czech glass. Once we got to the main desk, we were given special stickers to wear. And Jacob saw a pile of maps sitting on the desk. "Can I have a map?" He said. I thought it was great to see my son interpreting a map. I've never shown him a map so I had no idea he knew how to read one.
The first place we went was the African Heritage room, which was full of great African artifacts. Jacob immediately began to colour a picture of an African mask. While he was busy colouring, I sat down and picked up 2 african musical instruments, the first was a spin drum from Kenya and the second was a Bendo Seed shaker from Ghana. As soon as Jacob heard the sounds the 2 instruments made, he dropped his crayon and asked if he could use them. Jacob asked "Will I get in trouble if I'm too loud?" Once I said "no, you can be as loud as you want", Jacob began playing both instruments at the same time and dancing all over the room. It was then I realized that Jacob had stopped colouring and began making music. Jacob never switches to something new before he finishes what he was already doing. Even if Jacob is doing homework, and I ask him to go swimming, he won't go swimming until his work is done. I loved watching him dance and make music. As soon as he was done using the instruments, he put them away and went back to colouring. The mask he coloured was great. It was full of earth tones and looked like a real African mask. I asked Jacob if he wanted to take it home to show mom, but he surprisingly said no. He wanted to put it on the wall with all the other masks that other children had coloured. It was like he was displaying his artwork for everyone else to see. Also in the same room, there was a fantastic African folk art tin car. I think it was made from a Nescafe can, but that only made Jacob more interested. He couldn't believe that a toy would be made like that. Jacob was doing well at expressing himself positively and it was a great start to the visit.
Next, we went to the quilt exhibit. There was at least 25 quilts on display. Some were very big, maybe 12'X 12' or more. Jacob mentioned that blankets shouldn't be on the walls and I explained that the quilts were art. Then he saw a quilt he really liked and ran off towards it. Luckily for me, Jacob read the Warning DO NOT TOUCH sign, so I knew he wouldn't touch it. This quilt was on a table like structure in the middle of the room. It was big and black. Why is why Jacob said he liked it. I then got a chuckle out of what he said next, Jacob said "I wish I could put this quilt on the floor and sit on it." That's still kind of funny even now. Shannon has her grandmother's quilt. I wonder what Jacob will say when we show it to him.
The next location on Jacob's map was the French Impressionism exhibit. Most of these paintings were dark and of older people doing simple daily things. But there was one beautiful on on the far wall that caught both of our eyes. It was a painting done by James Tissot of 3 young girls playing croquet, which was its title. It was bright green, which I found surprising considering it was done 100 years ago. I love that Jacob has an eye for artwork.
We quickly moved from that exhibit to the central staircase which leads to the second floor. The second floor had Jacob's 2 favourite exhibits in the entire AGH. The first was the African mask room as Jacob called it. The exhibit has over 100 masks and wood carvings on display from all over Africa. Our favourite piece was the Nigerian throne that belonged to Prince Bisi Adesonga of the Yoruba tribe. It was about 5 feet tall and it looked like it was carved out of a giant tree. It was ornate and was covered in birds and other animals. Even the back was covered in animals and it was all hand carved. Jacob loved reading the little placards that had all the information on it. There were masks and carvings from Nigeria, Liberia, Cameroon and the Ivory Coast in Africa and there were masks and instruments from the Isles of Vanuatu and Borneo in the South Pacific. We must have spent half an hour in this exhibit alone. We had to look at every item on display and read all that we could. I didn't mind taking our time because I love that Jacob wants to learn about world cultures.
Then we came to the coolest piece of art I have ever seen. It was created by a Canadian from Edmonton named Kim Adams. It is called the Bruegel-Bosch Bus Diorama. It was started in 1996 and it is still not completed. It's a Volkswagen van from the 1960's and it is completely covered in toys. The display is about 15 feet long by 8 feet wide by 12 feet high or more. It has dolls and toys all over it. Jacob must of walked around the van a dozen times, each time showing me something new. I saw the look Jacob had on his face and I knew he was taking a lot in at one time. Then he began telling other people about it as they walked by. It was like he worked at the museum as a tour guide and he was full of information. If you ever come to Hamilton, you have to see it. I wish I could have taken a picture, but photography isn't allowed.
As we traversed the stairs a second time, I saw a bronze sculpture which was done in 1879 by a Frenchman named Gustave Dore. It was appropriately titled "Terror." It was a beautiful woman holding a baby over her head. Upon further investigation, I noticed that also in the sculpture was a giant snake which was coiled at her feet and was almost at her waist as it climbed the mother in search of her child. It reminded me of my wife and what she did last Christmas when he protected our son. I didn't mention the memories it triggered to Jacob even though he asked me why I was staring at that lady with the baby.
Mission Accomplished! Jacob loved visiting the Art Gallery of Hamilton and so did I. I can't wait to visit again. The next exhibit is from Canadians in the turn of the century and it begins on January 28Th I think. I also believe the African Mask section is a permanent display on loan from collectors, so they should be there the next time Jacob visits. If you live anywhere near a museum or art galley you should definitely visit. Both you and your kids will love it.
This is the Bruegel Bosch Bus by Kim Adams
WELCOME TO JIM'S AUTISM BLOG
Hi everyone and thanks for visiting our blog. My wife and I created this blog to chronicle our experience while raising a son with Asperger's syndrome. Since our son was diagnosed with an ASD at age 5, we've had a lot of questions. Lucky for us we have a great support network in place. And our blog gives us an opportunity to share what we've learned with our readers. We hope you find our blog informative and interesting. Thanks again for visiting.
"It seems that for success in science and art, a dash of autism is essential." Dr Hans Asperger 1906-1980