The Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, New York, kicked off Autism Acceptance Month with its first annual Marvels of Media Awards celebration.
Developed by the museum’s education department, the program—which launched March 31 and concludes April 30—includes an awards ceremony, a festival with workshops, film screenings and artist talks, and an exhibition highlighting the work of media artists on the autism spectrum.
Preparation for the celebration started back in October 2021, when the museum put out an open call for nominations of media makers on the spectrum. They received a whopping 3,071 nominations from nominators in 117 countries!
After careful consideration by judges—including industry leaders such as president of the Jim Henson Foundation Cheryl Henson; Academy Award–winning producer Brian Grazer; and Journalist Paula Zahn—media works award winners were chosen in 12 categories: Animated Short, Collaborative Innovation, Digital Art, Documentary, Experimental Film, Mockumentary, Narrative Feature, Narrative Short, Series, Video Game, Student Animated Short, and Student Video Game.
Curated by Sara Guerrero-Mostafa, Miranda Lee, and Tiffany Joy Butler, the multimedia exhibition includes 17 works including short films and video games that can be viewed and played on screens in the gallery. Additionally, objects and documents related to media making are on display. The media makers whose work is exhibited come from all cultural and artistic backgrounds.
Workshops conducted as part of the festival included an access rider workshop led by artist-filmmaker April Lin for artists with disabilities ages 16 and up. Access riders are documents that disabled artists can use to communicate their accessibility needs to fellow artists, organizations, or employers.
Events surrounding the exhibit are screenings of shorts by filmmakers at ReelAbilities, an organization “dedicated to promoting awareness and appreciation of the lives, stories and artistic expression of people with disabilities,” on April 9; media artist Carrie Hawks will present an artist talk followed by a hands-on animation workshop for media artists ages 16 and up on April 16; and on April 23, the museum will screen the Marvels of Media Awards winning entries.
In a press release, the museum’s executive director Carl Goodman said that the Marvels of Media Awards illustrates the museum’s continued “commitment to supporting the creative endeavors and pursuits of neurodiverse media-makers of all ages and backgrounds, and to help forge pathways within the media and entertainment industries through which these makers can have a substantive impact on our culture.”
Bradley Hennessey is one of the contest finalists. Hennessey’s submission, “An Aspie Life” is a videogame that teaches players what it’s like to live with autism.
“I believe Marvels of Media is an important venture into an amazing group of creators,” he said. “Throughout all media, there are many on the spectrum who work day and night to develop art. The autistic spectrum covers a wide range of individuals, each unique in who they are and how they interact with the world. When this is applied to a creative endeavor, the end result is a representation of who they are. Through this, I hope visitors will gain a better understanding of what it means to be on the spectrum and their perspective on life.”
For more information about the Marvels of Media Awards and the Museum of the Moving Image, click here.