Will Whelan’s latest art show, “Divergences,” an exhibit exploring neurodiversity, is currently on display at the Dorchester Art Project. Through a collection of impressive collaged, painted, and sketched pieces,“Divergences” offers a colorful perspective on a world that strays from societal standards.
“Neurodiversity just describes any sort of mental state or subjective experience that diverges from the norm,” said Whelan, “it could be used to talk about psychedelic experiences or any kind of mental health condition where you have a sort of divergent perception.”
Many of the pieces in “Divergences” are exegetic, causing the viewer to interpret snapshots of Whelan’s mind differently. One particular work from the show “crisis/circus” seemed to represent the ambiguity associated with seemingly cheerful words or ideas. Other pieces such as “signifying everything meaning nothing yet,” suggest an exploration of the line between rational and irrational language.
Motivation for the exhibit came from Whelan’s personal level of familiarity with nuerodiversity and delusional thought-process experiences. Although Whelan thinks the topic is wrongfully taboo in today’s society, his show isn’t about getting recognition for mental conditions.
“I don’t see the show so much about advocating for mental health or raising awareness about it, it’s more of an exploration of what it means to make meaning,” said Whelan.
Whelan also said that one doesn’t have to “consider themselves as neurodivergent or have a neurodivergent perspective or diagnosis,” to comprehend what the show means. “These are universal human experiences that try to derive meaning from the world,” said Whelan.
Another piece of Whelan’s unlike the rest in materials used, sat pleasurably cluttered in the corner. The chaotic hodgepodge of wooden shelves, paper scraps and magazine cutouts seemed to be just that at first, a hodgepodge. After a second glance however, there appeared to be intricate, symmetrical designs wrapped around old pill bottles, rising above the heap, perhaps an ode to disarray resulting in clarity.
The term “neurodiversity,” came out in the late 1990’s in the form of an international movement. Neurodiversity was first coined by social scientist, Judy Singer and later publicized by journalist, Harvey Blume. The concept strives to place recognition of the cognitive variance among other common personal identifiers such as religion, gender, and sexual-orientation. It may be a long wait before humanity embraces neurodiversity, but it starts with self-awareness.
“These are questions anyone can ask themselves: how am I making meaning from something? How am I making sense of the world? How am I interpreting things?” Said Whelan.
“Divergences” will be showing until December 22nd. Entry is free of charge with gallery hours falling between 12 and 6PM on Saturdays and Sundays. The Dorchester Art Project is located at 1486 Dorchester Ave, Boston, MA 02122. Make sure to stop by the gallery and check out “Divergences” for yourself! More of Whelan’s work can found online at https://www.willwhelan.art