We need different kinds of Minds

Ways of Thingking: 

We need different kinds of minds by Ryan Jara 

 As parents observe their children growing up, they expect certain behaviors to manifest at certain ages: the first steps taken, the first words uttered, the first awareness of responsibility. For children who do not readily hit these milestones, worry on the part of the parents inevitably ensues. There will be trip to the doctors, to speech therapists, to special needs educators. There might be self-blame; there might be grief. More often, there will be a sense of anxiety on how these children will enter the world that expects how children conduct themselves to be.

 In this solo exhibition, Ryan Jara proposes as a way of a title and concept the radical idea: We need different kinds of minds. It is based on a quote from the scientist, professor, and autism spokesperson Temple Grandin who said, “The world needs different kinds of minds,” arguing it is time for the world to embrace a wide spectrum of behavior, social skills, and ways of being in the world. 

 At the center of this show is Jara’s son depicted in the artist’s signature Cubist style showing an asymmetrical pair of eyes. While not directly looking at the viewer, this pair of eyes denotes a sense of wonder, imagination, and a rich interior world. The richness of this world is manifested with how the boy plays with his toys, books, and musical instruments, depictions of which are paired with a portrait.

 For instance, “Thomas the Train” is represented in the style of Jara, showing how it is an extension of the boy’s fascination with ordering things as though they are coaches of the train. In another work, a drum set is represented, which the boy uses to express himself, despite the fact that he is sensitive to loud music (the boy in the portrait is seen covering his ears with his hands.)  While the boy may find it difficult to talk to other people, the gift of language is not lost on him, as he loves books, whose pages are depicted by Jara like leaves of a tree.  

 This exhibition, as a whole, is a tender portrait of a father to his son, who celebrates him not despite, but because of, his difference. The world may see these differences as not within the normal range, but perhaps it is our definition of normal that has to change. By showing us how his son navigates through the world, Jara is contributing to our understanding that there are other ways of thinking and, often times, these result to a bigger, wider sense of experiencing life. More than anything, the show is Jara’s expression of affection to his son. Yes, we need different kinds of minds, but the heart needs only one language, which is love.

-Carlomar Arcangel Daoana