Working in collaboration with The Andy Warhol Museum, Arne Svenson created a series of portraits entitled About Face. In February 2011, Svenson was the artist-in-residency at Pittsburgh’s Wesley Spectrum Highland, an Approve Private School for students with special needs, grades 4–12.
Svenson’s residency, which led to this exhibition, is part of an ongoing partnership with Svenson, The Warhol, the Cognitive Psychology Department at the University of Victoria, BC, and Wesley Spectrum Highland. The goal of this partnership is to improve autistic youth’s communication skills by developing and piloting activities that utilize Warhol’s portraits and the practice of contemporary portrait artists to teach facial recognition skills to students within the autism spectrum.
The exhibition features three-dimensional, large-format photographs, mounted on aluminum, which are fixed open at a 55-degree angle, and mounted directly the gallery walls. From one perspective the viewer sees only a neutral portrait of the student, while from the other angle one views an open spread, which reveals an expressive image of the student and an accompanying emotional motivator. Motivators range from an image of kittens at play to a fistfight.
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© ARNE SVENSON