Sara Zovko explores neurodiversity in art in 'I Think Differently'
What made you decide to lean into your identity as a point of interrogation?
To be honest, it wasn't just my own identity, but that of the people around me. Finding out I was neuro-divergent only opened my eyes to those around me that had also faced a lifetime of struggles without necessarily knowing why. In doing research about my own ADHD, I decided to use the opportunity for creating a master's project to share what I had discovered through the lens of creativity and art - an often-unexplored facet of neurodiversity. Throughout my MA, I often found ways to explore various points of identity, from being queer to being non-binary, in the assignments we were given. It felt fitting to complete my degree in the same way, and present a project that explored a mostly misrepresented part of many people's identities.
How did you find the process of writing your journal?
Deciding on a format completely different to everyone else on my course, was actually kind of terrifying. I didn't have the same point of reference that most of my classmates did, and I felt myself branching out further and further from the creating process we had been taught. Luckily, I had extremely supportive tutors who understood my choice of format and encouraged my project to be as personal as possible. It was nerve-wracking to be creating something so different to what everyone else was doing, but I am glad I decided to do so. I think working outside of what was expected also contributed to representing neurodiversity, in a way.
What benefit does producing work of a personal nature provide to you?
The biggest benefit has definitely been self-exploration and self-discovery. This is very closely followed by learning more about how different people experience the same (or similar) things that I have faced. I firmly believe that learning should never stop, whether it's learning about yourself, others, or the world as a whole, so creating projects like this complements that belief very well. It took me a long time to learn and accept some crucial parts of my identity, and researching and writing about them makes it a lot easier to understand myself.
Which modules in your course did you enjoy the most?
The modules that were my favourites were always the ones that insisted on creating something. Our module on fashion journalism in a global context required creating an editorial, which I thoroughly enjoyed. However, my overall favourite (aside from the Master's project) would have to be Risk, Experiment and Speculation in Fashion Media, which required us to create an activist platform and present an example of the content we would be sharing. I wrote one of the most personal pieces I'd ever written for that module, and it's probably the one I'm most proud of, outside of the final project.
Are there any resources that you would recommend to readers?
In regards to I Think Differently and learning more about neurodiversity, I would say, as a general rule, to stay away from medical and psychological papers that explain it in simplified and quantified terms. Neurodiversity is a unique experience for every neuro-divergent individual, especially when it comes to how they think and create. A book that I found immensely helpful in understanding the uniqueness of the neuro-divergent experience was Explaining Humans by Dr Camilla Pang. Another text that I found extremely insightful was Thomas Armstrong's Neurodiversity: discovering the extraordinary gifts of autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and other brain differences, a more objective observation of neurodiversity, but one that strives to present its benefits and contribution to creativity in a more positive light. I also recommend reading personal accounts: blogs, articles, even social media posts, created by neuro-divergent people about their experience. In my opinion, the most significant element of resources regarding neurodiversity is the personal angle, as every experience is different.