Behind The Mask


9 January – 24 February

*Exhibition in The Granary 

Behind the Mask features works by autistic artists who explore the concept of masking. The artists use a variety of media, including painting, sculpture, photography, and found objects, to express their experiences of masking and more importantly, what is behind their mask – their true self.

The show aims to raise awareness of the challenges of masking and to celebrate the creativity and resilience of autistic artists. It is also hoped that the show will help to challenge stereotypes about autism and to promote acceptance of autistic people.

*The Granary is also used for other events during the week during which time it may not be possible to view the exhibition.  If you are making a trip specificaly to see the exhibition please call or e-mail ahead to check.  0191 561 3455 / [email protected]

 

Behind The Mask is a collaborative project working with autistic residents of South Tyneside and Sunderland.

Autism is a spectrum condition that affects how people communicate and interact with the world around them. One of the challenges that many autistic people face is ‘masking’. Masking is the act of hiding or suppressing autistic traits in order to fit in with neurotypical society. 

What is masking? 

Masking is a complex and exhausting process. It can involve changing the way you speak, the way you move, and even the way you think. Masking takes a toll on your physical and emotional health. 

Examples of masking: 

Autistic people may mask by changing their tone of voice, their word choice, or their volume in order to sound more like the people they are talking to. 

Autistic people may mask by suppressing ‘stimming’ behaviours, such as hand flapping or rocking, in order to avoid drawing attention to themselves. 

Autistic people may mask by trying to think in a way that is more “Neurotypical,” such as suppressing their own thoughts and feelings. 

Why do autistic people mask? 

There are a number of reasons why autistic people mask. Some people mask because they want to fit in with neurotypical society and avoid discrimination. Others mask because they have been taught that their autistic traits are “wrong” or “bad.” Some autistic people mask because they feel pressure from their families or friends to conform. 

However, not all autistic people mask and we have included works by autistic adults who can only present to the world as themselves. 

The challenges of masking 

Masking can be a challenging and exhausting process. 

Masking is emotionally draining. It can be difficult to constantly suppress your true feelings and pretend to be someone you’re not. 

Masking can lead to social isolation. If you’re constantly trying to fit in, you may find it difficult to make genuine connections with people. 

Masking can increase your risk of developing mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression. 

The show: Behind the Mask 

The show Behind the Mask features works by autistic artists who explore the concept of masking. The artists use a variety of media, including painting, sculpture, photography, and found objects, to express their experiences of masking and more importantly, what is behind their mask – their true self. 

The works in the show range from the abstract to the figurative. Some of the works depict the physical and emotional toll of masking, while others offer a more hopeful view of the lived experience of being autistic. 

The show aims to raise awareness of the challenges of masking and to celebrate the creativity and resilience of autistic artists. It is also hoped that the show will help to challenge stereotypes about autism and to promote acceptance of autistic people. 

The artists 

The artists in the show Behind the Mask are all autistic and have first-hand experience of masking. They are a diverse group of artists, with a wide range of styles and techniques. However, they are all united by their desire to share their experiences of masking and to help others understand what it means to be autistic. 

The Behind the Mask project has been kindly funded by Inclusion North as part of their Small Sparks fund.

Autism In Mind is commissioned to provide post diagnostic support for adults in Sunderland. We are also commissioned in South Tyneisde and Northumberland. We deliver Me, Myself and Autism, a self-awareness and understanding course for autistic adults and we provide ‘low level preventative support’ through our ‘Connect, Support, Prevent’ programme. 

To find out more about masking and the support Autism In Mind offers in Sunderland, South Tyneside or Northumberland please visit autisminmind.com

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