Expressions of Autism

Artwork by Myra Hinssen

“Kate”

About the artist: I am a 31 year old former tattoo artist from Maastricht in the south of the Netherlands. I live with my boyfriend, dog, and ball python in a cosy little appartment filled with art and plants. 

I gave up my Tattoo shop due to mental, physical health issues. But I also closed this door as a way to open up new doors to having a more all-round art career in the near future. 

I was diagnosed just last year with autism and generalized anxiety disorder. After years of getting the wrong diagnoses, I always knew I was different as a kid growing up, I was the odd one out. Now that I’m older, I’m happier in a lot of ways for not fitting in.

My autism has caused me a lot of struggles in my life, mainly because of the way society isn’t built for neuro diverse people. But today I also feel it is a blessing in a way.. It helps me hyper focus while making art. And it also means that I suck up information that interests me like sponge… Every art tutorial I ever watched.. Is still up there. And I benefit from that a lot. 


The top portrait showing a girl with short hair is titled “Kate”. It’s a mixed media artwork with mainly acrylic paints. She’s the first portrait in a series I’m working on called “But you don’t look autistic”. I, myself, and a lot of other autistic women, are very familiar with this sentence, and it made me wonder what exactly people think autism looks like… So I started doing a series of portraits of different women on the spectrum, to create awareness that autism and mental health isn’t something you can see on the outside.


This picture is a mixedmedia collage I did. Here autism is also the main topic. I used the AU and the numbers are the weight of gold and the element number, which has the element name AU, i think it’s a nice symbol for autism instead of the mostly hated puzzle piece or the Infinity symbol, which I honestly don’t really get…

The collaging itself represents finding all the details and little pieces to get to the overal picture of things, since autistics are very detail oriented and sometimes struggle to see the bigger picture before seeing all the tiny details…


This is a watercolor painting, also a self portrait. It represents my struggle to find the right diagnosis and also fighting to get it officially after I figured it out by myself over the years… Getting my diagnosis felt like I could start over in a way, burning everything behind me, sad and scary but also necessary. The hair in front of my face represents that, even though I know what I don’t want in life anymore, I also can’t see clearly yet where it is going now.


This watercolor painting is also a selfportrait. It represents a social hangover… I used to take drugs and alcohol to be able to socialize and go to parties and stuff…to take all those boundaries away that I put on myself over the years, masking my true self to adjust to societal expectations. Only to come home and having all those conversations play over and over in my head… Feeling embarrassed about what I said and did… Having no boundaries at all is also not the right path…


This final one is a mixed media collage I did, called “Implosion”. I did it as a form of art therapy. It also has the autistic gold elements in it. The gold handprints etc. The faces in there are an old drawing I did years ago. And the implosion stands for keeping too much to myself, finding it hard to express my feelings sometimes, especially when there’s a lot of emotions, I tend to shut down and go mute… When my boyfriend or Mom asks me ‘What is going on?’, I want to tell them so badly, but just physically can’t get the words out, until I feel like all those trapped thoughts will implode.

For more of my work please follow my Instagram, which has most of my art: https://www.instagram.com/myrahinssen/

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