Then and Now: Honorable Mentions 3/2015 Phoebe Murer


I won Honorable Mentions at Fleisher Art Memorial in 2013 and 2015. 

In 2013, I was working with a job coach at an agency, who did a lot of things for me like write my cover letters, and fill out my applications to streamline things. I had no confidence to do anything, because I was always discouraged to do things. For example, I was told I could not fill out an application on my own because my handwriting was too sloppy. I was very dependent and scared shitless to promote myself. At the same time I was overcoming some traumatic experiences and had severe trust issues. I was spinning my wheels going to job interviews for all sorts of jobs, because of the scarcity of jobs then), only not to be hired and was coached to act as normal as possible. I began to wonder if I was just unemployable. I saw no point in going to Grad school because my grade point average was not up to par. I felt so lost and scared. I had a foreshortened outlook of my future. It didn’t matter that I had two undergrad degrees. You can see that cautious facial expression on my face with a 3/4 profile. 

2015-03-20 19.42.18-1

Now I am working part time at a preschool with kids and taking care of my parents, while going to school part time to get ready for grad school. I am seeing a career counselor from one of my colleges and he is supportive. I use my judgment on advice and opinions to accept, and am more likely to search the internet when I need to know something than ask someone.
I have joined two art Co-ops to show my artwork and am much more able to promote myself. I am still not up to speed with that and many other things but am catching up. I am perfectly capable of filling out applications and writing cover letters now. At my sculpture classes I used various machinery I did not think I could like the plasma cutter without supervision! I am much less afraid to try new things and much more confident. While I used to not be able to look at things in the long term, I am now looking at my five-year plan. Look at the second pic where I am looking at the camera proud.



Galileo: Phoebe Murer

I started out at Arcadia as a sophomore in college. I had transferred out of a junior college where I had difficulty with my peers. I was misunderstood because I have Aspergers Syndrome (a high-functioning form of autism), and am liberal and eccentric. Most of the students at the college I was at before there were conservative and conventional. I was laughed at, ridiculed, and condemned for my mannerisms and tastes. Many students at that school tried to change me, and none accepted me for who I was.
At Arcadia I had a learning support person to help me with organization and accommodations. I was a psychology major, and my sophomore year I took a two-semester course called “psychology as a natural science,” which included a lab class. I struggled on my first two exams in this course and had to meet with the professor after every class to review the lecture. I struggled to take notes because I had trouble processing what the professor was saying and grasping the pivotal points. I got D’s on my first two exams and made a joke about wanting to sneak a pet rat into my room and call him “Dee Dee,” because I habitually got D’s on my exams. By my last exam for psych as a natural science, I got a 79. I did well with writing papers, which improved my grade. I had the same problems in all my classes until I started getting note takers and regular tutoring. Then I usually got B’s and C’s on my exams. I even got A’s in some classes which did not require as many exams.
For the first semester lab we worked in twos or threes doing experiments with six-week-old rats. To teach them how to distinguish things and do lever presses, we used operational and classical conditioning. We water deprived them and gave them water as reinforcement. The rats were only allowed water a half hour a day.
I was excited to work with rats, because they are my favorite animals. I identify with rats because people often focus on their appearance and overlook their amazing intelligence and personalities. I have a history of being overlooked for my Aspergers Syndrome. I have had many rats as pets. I had really missed being with them at school.
During our first lab, the professor did a demonstration on how to handle rats. We were not to grab them by the tails. She gave a lecture about how rats behaved. I gave a lot of input on handling rats and the professor was pleased. On my first assignment, however, I had a hard time following directions, and the professor had me do it over. I asked for a lot of clarification and the professor got frustrated and accused me of not paying attention. I explained to her I have a leaning disability. As part of my Aspergers, I have an auditory processing problem and cannot process information that fast. Therefore I am better off given clear written directions for multistep tasks. Many people on the spectrum have the same problem.
We worked with a rat whom we named Galileo. He was tiny, and I quickly bonded with him, but he was shy when we first handled him. He hid under the shavings and pooped on people. I spent a couple of hours getting to know Galileo. He quickly warmed up to me and made happy chattering noises and kissed me. I played with him every day. My partners, with whom I took turns giving him water, thought he was very shy and scared.
Learning was a struggle for Galileo. He never learned anything in the classical conditioning experiment and needed extra time to learn the lever press. Once he learned it, he was great at it. Galileo’s learning style minds me of my own.
I once subbed for another person in a group for another rat in the classical conditioning experiment. This rat was named Mr. Bigglesworth. He did much better in the classical conditioning experiment than Galileo did, just as many of my classmates did much better in their exams than I did. I believed Galileo had a learning disability just like me. All the other rats seemed to do better on the experiments than Galileo.
There was a fat rat named Charlie who did better in learning the experiments than all the other rats in our class. A lot of my classmates loved Charlie. He was very friendly to people. I tried to have him interact with Galileo, but Charlie just beat him up. Charlie reminded me of a jock who brownnosed teachers.
I interacted with Mr. Bigglesworth. He was also tiny and was skittish. I had him interact with Galileo. At first Galileo beat him up because he himself had been beaten up, but then they started getting along. Mr. Bigglesworth was very clean while Galileo was unkempt. When I grabbed the rats by the nape to see if they remembered their mothers, Mr. Bigglesworth cried, but Galileo did not mind. Mr. Bigglesworth reminded me of a peevish mainstream dude.
Galileo was very friendly and continued to give me kisses. Unlike any other rats I have known, pull on my lip ring and nose ring, and try to stick his nose up my nostrils. When I adopted him, he stood on the water bottle instead of lie on the sleeping house. He interacted very little with the other rat I had. He was people oriented. He was very hyper and ran around. I too can get hyper and silly the way Gallileo can. I felt Galileo was a rat version of me because of his learning style and personality. Like me, he was bright, but had a learning disability and awkward social skills.

Tug of War: Written by Phoebe Murer, Adapted by Tim Pylypiuk

radio-drama-tug-of-war-marathon-1–10am-pst.mp3 1:18:11 radio-drama–tug-of-war-marathon-2–10am-pst.mp3 1:30:22
radio-drama-encore-tug-of-war-marathon-3–1pm-pst.mp3 1:23:42
radio-drama-12pm–tug-of-war-part-four.mp3 1:31:01
radio-drama-tug-of-war-marathon-conclusion–10am-pst.mp3 1:55:04

Animal Plays: Written by Phoebe Murer, Adapted by Tim Pylypiuk

speak-to-me-seymour-the-guinea-pig-encore–10am-pst.mp3 1:31:55
encore-radio-drama-10am–chase-the-lab-rat.mp3 2:01:49
radio-drama-rat-humor–3pm-pst.mp3 1:17:32

Meltdown: Written by Phoebe Murer, Adapted by Tim Pylypiuk

radio-drama-meltdown-volume-1–triggers-i–10am-pst.mp3 1:07:19
encore-radio-drama-meltdown-volume-1-triggers-2–3pm.mp3 1:33:32
radio-drama-meltdown-volume-2-manic-part-2–10am-pst.mp3 1:12:26
radio-drama-meltdown-volume-3-part-four–10am-pst.mp3 1:34:18
radio-drama-meltdown-volume-3-part-2–10am-pst.mp3 1:26:39
radio-drama-meltdown-volume-4–routine-part-2–3pm-pst.mp3 1:49:47
radio-drama-meltdown-season-four-finale-pt-1–3pm-pst.mp3 1:14:36
radio-drama-meltdown-season-four-finale-pt-2–3pm-pst.mp3 2:32:43
autistic-broadcasting-news—autistic-theatre–music–cafe.mp3 1:59:22
writers-block-sci-fi–10am-pstradio-drama-the-grooming-hour–11am-pst.mp3 2:58:56
radio-drama-meltdown-season-five–discharge-premier–5pm-pst.mp3 2:02:20
radio-drama-meltdown-season-five-episode-one–3pm-pst.mp3 2:02:24

Phoebe Murer’s phone skits (some of the shows have other hosts in part of them)

innersight-autism-1.mp3 53:40
innersight-autism.mp3 1:56:31
innersight-autism.mp3 2:14:44
innersight-autism.mp3 51:10
innersight-autism.mp3 1:21:38
innersight-autism.mp3 1:18:26

Phoebe’s readings are in author cafe (themes are next to the link)

author-cafe–autistic-broadcasting-news.mp3 (Bullying) 2:01:24
autistic–author–cafe—autistic–broadcasting–news.mp3 (mental illness in teens) 1:59:57
autistic-broadcasting-news—autistic–author–cafe.mp3 (animal skits) 2:04:10
autistic-author–cafe–autistic–broadcasting-news.mp3 1:59:02 (poetry)

Speak to me: by Tim Pylypuik, Adapted by Tim Pylypiuk

radio-drama-two-for-one-special–3pm-pst.mp3 1:55:34

radio-drama–speak-to-me-rundown-complete.mp3 2:57:57

radio-drama–speak-to-me-rundown-conclusion–3pm-pst-1.mp3 2:57:22
radio-drama-speak-to-me-rundown-epilogue–3pm-pst.mp3 1:32:45

Speak for Myself: by Tim Pylypuik, Adapted by Tim Pylypiuk

radio-drama-speak-for-myself-posterity-edition–5pm-pst.mp3 1:51:00

How Fleisher Art Memorial helped me

I started taking classes at Fleisher Art Memorial as an adult in 2012. I started Fleisher in the process of starting my life over. I was depressed because I could not find a job and was discouraged to do all these things most people can do like drive a car, do paper work, use an ironing board etc. This is because I have Aspergers Syndrome (high functioning autism). My soul was wounded.

The first class I took at Fleisher as an adult was silk screen. I signed up for screen printing because we never actually had a screen printing class at Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA) when I was a student there. Now PAFA has screen printing classes. I went to PAFA at the turn of the 21st century. The printmaking classes I took there were woodcut, etching, lithography, and print media. I fell in love with printmaking except lithography which was too labor intensive and confusing for me at the time. I found printmaking a liberating way to express myself hence, I could make images of anything I wanted. In most of the classes I took, we had to draw or paint from a model or still life. I was a painting major.

I fell in love with silk screen and the environment right away. I found screen printing quite liberating with all these possibilities. I was impressed you did not have to write backwards like with practically all the other printmaking techniques and the easiness of using more than one color. There was so much nostalgia in that room.

I took Prints in Progress there when I was 11 years old and the “Prints in Progress” sign was still there. Prints in Progress was a children’s art program at Fleisher which involved printmaking. We did silkscreen there. I was in the teenager class even though I was eleven because of my art talent. I was socially awkward and had trouble fitting in with my peers. I was always trying to get into their conversations even though I did not understand what they were talking about. I was unable to read social cues well, but knew I was treated different from by my peers. We were in completely different worlds. When I first took silkscreen, my prints in progress teacher was one of my classmates so we got to bond as adults and classmates instead of child and adult. Since my mind has matured a lot since PAFA, I took lithography and appreciated the process and labor intensiveness of it. I took advantage of it as a work out.

I had met lots of interesting cool people and have had all sorts of interesting conversations and learn a lot from each other. The best thing is that I can take any class I want over and over. Many of the other students do too so I really get to know them and the instructors. Hence I took silkscreen over and over. After gaining enough confidence in screen printing, I joined the 2nd state community to screen print in their open studio. In addition I took an amazing Printmaking class at Fleisher for advanced printmakers and the students had a show with the instructors who came in to that class to do demos. I am now teaching printmaking in my private art lessons and hope one day to teach a printmaking class at Second State press or other places utilizing what I learned at Fleisher.

Anyway, I found my community to make prints to express myself and learned to express myself through other types of art. I took photoshop, paper making, comics, ceramics, ceramic tile making, framing, kiln glass, lithography, fiber arts, and some sculpture classes. I had fun photoshopping my large pet aguiti rat on the street to make him look like a wild rat. For mix medium sculpture and kiln glass, I had fun making my favorite TV and video game characters with the mediums I was taught. For paper making, I had a ball writing quotes expressing frustration with the world. The comic book class refined my drawing skills for the graphic novel I’m working on.
Every instructor I had at Fleisher I learned a lot from.

Not just that, but I have used what I learned from Fleisher to teach other people and for my own studio art. The comic book class refined my drawing skills for the graphic novel I’m working on. I also use photoshop a lot now. The best thing is some of the classes are free while the others are a very reasonable price.

As I learn more art styles, and techniques, I grow more confident. I have hung up art work at student art shows, volunteered at the Print love in, Dear Fleshier, Harvest Hoe Down, and sold art at ArtSpiration. I find Fleisher has became such a community for the students to promote their art in the Holiday Art sale and occasional parties like the spontaneous happy hour after the 2016 student show.

Through meeting other people I have learned trivial social skills like what music is socially acceptable to play on my iPod in class (also depends on the people). I have learned from others various art clubs to belong to, marketing, places to sell art, art programs to get your MFA, places to purchase printmaking supplies, etc. etc, and much more that involves art. I also learn about other cool things to do too. I am now getting involved with various art clubs and participate in their group shows. I participated in the Di Vinci Gallery and starwheelprintmakers. I applied to two grad schools and decided to go for my Master’s in English in hope to incorporate my creative writing with my visual art talent.
I feel my independence and self confidence has come a long way since I started Fleisher. Also when I first started Fleisher, I was depended on others to hook me up with a job, for example, I got my silkscreen instructor to talk to the manager of the children’s art program for me about the job position for the art teacher assistant because I did not feel I could do it myself. Back then, I was unable to write cover letters then. Also I was scared of promoting myself because I feared I would get shot down and make a fool out of myself. Now I can easily contact people with cover letters if I want to promote myself. This is because I have the tools. All I need to do is ask or search the right person to contact and send a cover letter, resume, CV, etc to the person. The only thing I need is people to look over my essays and statements, but who doesn’t. I originally wanted to leave Philadelphia, and start over but taking classes at Fleisher and how art oriented Philly is are  the reasons I want to stay in Philadelphia.

Flowers for Algernon (2008,Film)

WARNING: I wrote this when I was going through a rough time.

I watched two movies based on the book Flowers for Algernon, Charly, and Flowers for Algernon. Flowers for Algernon (film, 2008) hit home in such an emotional way. I have a mild form autism and relate to Charly.

Firstly let me explain the plot of the movie. Charly has mental retardation, but wants to be a genius to make his parents proud. Some scientist did experiments on mice giving them brain surgeries to make them geniuses. They decided to try on a human being and used Charly as the first guinea pig. After he got the surgery, he slowly grew smarter to the point he developed an IQ in the 200 range.

When Charly first grew smarter, he was in what one calls the honeymoon stage. He was so excited to learn new things and retain the information.  I was in the honeymoon stage when I was ages 11-12 because I had become aware that my autistic traits when I was 11 such as talking to myself in public and carrying around items I hoarded and talking to them was alienating my peers and attracting bullying at camp. I decided to stop those behaviors. I was so happy to return to camp and impress my peers by not doing those behaviors. The kids who bullied me hung out with me and saw I had strengths. I made friends. But that did not last long.

Just like Charly went to a school for adults with mental retardation, I went to a school for children with autism.  My parents had a lot of difficulty finding a new school for me and I ended up in a school for mostly children with behavioral problems. I got bullied a lot there and was called a retard there.

By the time I was 12, I learned that my typical peers walked on egg shells around me because they did not know how to act around me. It was so painful that the activities I used to love to go to, I stopped going to just to avoid being reminded I was “Different.” I became so embarrassed and ashamed of my autism just as Charly grew ashamed of how he was previously challenged.

However, as he grew smarter, he became aware that the people who he thought were his friends were making fun of him and taking advantage of him.  He grew angry and frustrated and became disagreeable alienating others. As a result, he lost his job at the pizza place. His colleagues who made fun of him for having retardation felt threatened by his newfound intelligence and felt they were being made fun of. They petitioned him to get fired.

Then he went to a convention where the scientist openly called him “Nature’s mistake” and expressed dire expectations for him.  Charly then made a speech, publicly humiliating the scientist on how unethical the experiment was and mentioned that there was a similar experiment done in Russia and it failed. What happened was the surge of intelligence was temporary and the mice became dumber than ever.  He said “the old Charly” should have known that. He set the mice free.

Algernon grew dumber rapidly to the point where he could not feed himself and died. Watching that upset me because it made me think of all the times I wanted to give up on life because of failed dreams like when I realized how hard it was to work in human services because of social skills and all the politics it takes to pass a lousy job interview anywhere.

Charly learned a  valuable lesson that he was actually much happier when “dumb” because he was unaware of how much he was taken advantage of. I was much happier before I discovered that my autism made it difficult to form friendships like other people and learn. My peers took advantage of me and I was unaware of it until I became aware of how people with autism get treated.  And with Charlie’s innocence and  happiness, he had a huge heart. However, as he grew smarter, his heart grew overwhelmed by his mind.

I’m dealing with that now. I have discovered how corrupt and broken the society is and that has broken my heart to the point I have burnt out and grew disagreeable. I have I have lost gigs due to being disagreeable. I have also alienated people with my negative attitude in the past and keep my guard up toward everyone.

I have preconceived notions of body language and intentions of other people from watching movies and reading books as well as being hurt repetitively.   I believe that is what Charly dealt with. Also he must have felt so betrayed when he learned people who he thought were his friends were making fun of him. I have been betrayed like that and by people who were supposed to help me.




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