WHO ARE YOU - ADVOCATE
Photographs by Christopher M. Gauthier, Evidence and Artifacts
Christopher M. Gauthier and Jacqueline F. Gauthier
Christopher M. Gauthier, MFA - "I have two children on the spectrum and as an artist the work is usually about us, it's about our own narratives. So in a moment of frustration, in a battle period with my daughter, I jokingly call her my African honey badger. She's small, she's fuzzy, she's cute and everybody loves her, but when the claws and the teeth come out, she'll take on a pack of lions. She's ferocious. We are in the middle of this argument and I thought, okay, this is it. I have to make a photograph about this. I don't know how to do it. I'm just going to do it. Then I shot a photo of me. I realized that this is not an unusual situation. Everybody around me is facing the same thing. This is ridiculous. Why are we feeling alone? Why are we struggling? How can I reach to my neighbors, my friends, the therapist, that all feel the same way? They are all frustrated. You are all frustrated. And so we began this very very very very very long endeavor [Evidence and Artifacts]. The projects goal is over 5,000 portraits. It will take me over five years to do it. I will not stop. I was the kid who grew up with no diagnosis. I'm undiagnosed Asperger's. I refused to do it because of institutional discrimination. I grew up in the 70's, one of the odd balls and I have fought and struggled my way. I was "the dumb one" of the family. I am the only one with a higher education degree at this point. The projects self funded. The goal of this is to become a political movement, to create an iconic image, not one image, but a collection of faces that no politician can walk away from; no human being can walk away from. The politicians can't ignore us if we stand together. I was told by a state representative that they are terrified by the subject of autism, because it is not quantifiable, not qualifiable, and we can't give them an exact number on how to cure it, solve it, fix it or anything. They don't want to touch it with a ten foot pole. Well, he said that to the wrong person."
Christopher M. Gauthier, MFA, is an actively exhibiting artist teaching Fine Art Photography at Utah State University. He holds a MFA from Ohio University in photography and received a BA from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL. His work can be found in the permanent collections of the Mississippi Museum of Art; Webster University, The Netherlands; Koltsovo Airport, Yekaterinburg, Russian Federation and in private collections nationally and internationally. Autism advocacy became a personal imperative when he became aware of the link between his environmental concerns and his children’s autism.
Chris presented at the USAAA 2012 World Conference in Denver, Colorado. Download the video presentation.
Chris also presented at the USAAA World Conference in Seattle, Washington in 2011. You can download the video or audio presentation (DVD also available) from the Support Services Panel Discussion.
Jacqueline F. Gauthier studied Social Work at Eastern Mennonite University and is currently the Director for Morningside School, a private Preschool and Kindergarten in Logan, UT. Jacqueline has been a life-long advocate for women and children, with a background in crisis intervention, including medical and legal advocacy for survivors of sexual violence and case management services for abused children. Jacqueline became invested in autism related issues with the birth of their children, Madeline and Caleb. She is interested in DIR/Floortime, therapeutic applications for art and music, sensory integration techniques, and the biomedical intervention of autism spectrum disorders. She is a collaborative partner in the photographic project Evidence and Artifacts: Facing Autism.
Christopher and Jacqueline Gauthier live with their family in Logan, Utah.