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York College Fine Art major’s senior art project shows the beauty of neurodiverse brains

A Fine Art student posing with two of her colorful painting depicting what the mind looks like for those with neurological disorders

Fine Art major Rebecca Carter ’21 has dyslexia and has often had to explain to people the disability they can’t see. Her senior art project showcases neurodiverse brains, including those with autism, ADHD, and depression, to show the complexity of each.

Dyslexia forces Rebecca Carter ’21 to frequently explain herself. While she doesn’t mind having conversations with people, it can be exhausting. There have been many times she’s received a critical email correcting her spelling errors or gotten a funny look because she doesn’t look like she has a disability.

“We can’t see the neurological differences in people to know what someone may be dealing with,” the York College of Pennsylvania Fine Art major says. “I’m highly verbal. I can come across as very professional. And then I write something, and people don’t understand what’s wrong.”

Still, Carter does her best to live with her learning disorder. She triple-checks her work. She schedules meetings at the Writing Center. She talks with every new professor, internship supervisor, or employer as to what steps she will take to ensure she is continuing to reach excellent levels of success. Carter is a strong student, who has received several scholarships and is an active member in Alpha Chi. She knows and always strives for the highest standard of achievement.

“When people are truly educated on your disability, they can be very accommodating,” she says. “We just have to keep in mind there are a lot of things people are dealing with that we can’t see.”

Bringing light to the brain

Carter was thinking of ideas for her senior project when her mom started talking to her about someone’s brain scan. It was beautiful. The colors showed up with all of the activity, and suddenly, Carter realized she could finally help illustrate her dyslexia.

She decided to paint a range of brain scans showing different disabilities. They’ll each be completed abstractly—without the pressure of making sure they’re scientifically accurate or to scale—and will simply show how someone’s brain may look differently depending on whether they have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), autism, anxiety, depression, or dyslexia, just to name a few.

All of the paintings she’s creating represent people she knows with real disabilities, and each one of those disabilities is represented on the York College campus, she says. Each painting will have a small writeup from someone with that disability, explaining what it’s like living with it.

“I wanted to do a project that was about something I care about,” Carter says. “This is something that’s incredibly personal for me.”

Art on display

Her work will be on display at the College with an online show set for April 30, 2021, and later in downtown York at The Grotto, a co-working and collaborative artist space, during First Friday festivities on June 4, 2021. As she prepares her final touches, her goal is that the gallery helps bring to light the different way each of us is made up.

“I hope everyone who sees the work walks away and realizes that none of us are less than or lazy or dumb because of our disabilities,” she says. “They’re just different. And we all have wonderful things we can contribute.”