Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) is currently exhibiting two-dimensional works art by 36 autistic artists in the airport’s Youth Art Gallery, located in Terminal A-East Baggage Claim. The artists, who are all 18 years-old and younger, are part of the Philadelphia Autism Project’s network of schools. Founded in 2014, the Philadelphia Autism Project is the city’s first resource hub for autistic individuals and their families that provides educational programs, training, community collaborations, events, and grassroots seed funding for organizations to develop new initiatives. Over its nearly decade-long history, the Philadelphia Autism Project has worked to ensure that “Philadelphia is a top city for people on the spectrum and more broadly, a city of inclusion.”
The exhibition, called “Through Our Eyes,” is one of the organization’s programs that focuses on the visual arts to recognize the creative talents of Philadelphia-area youth who are on the spectrum. One of the young artists wrote an eloquent description that accompanies the exhibition:
“Autism (also known as ASD, or Autism Spectrum Disorder) is a condition that affects a person’s abilities to communicate and interact with other people, as well as how they process sensory stimuli. We might have a tougher time understanding social cues or jokes, or we might say something that we don’t know is rude at first. We might be made physically uncomfortable by a harsh noise or get very excited when we touch or smell something pleasant or go out of our way to avoid a certain food because the texture of it is upsetting. There may be times where we completely shut down and can’t talk because we’re upset or overwhelmed. We come in all shapes and sizes, all ages, and different symptoms. No two autistic people are the same, even if they’re the same age and are raised the same way. Some of our needs, tendencies and behaviors may appear strange to you, but if you take the time to understand us, it will help both of us in the long run…I personally thank you for taking the time to learn a little more about this mind-rooted difference that I and many others came into the world with.” -Emily B.
“The airport is honored to share the artwork by young, Philadelphia-area autistic artists with the world and to bring awareness of the important programming of the Philadelphia Autism Project,” said PHL’s Director of Guest Experience Leah Douglas.