Thinking [Outside] the Box

Thinking [outside] the box is the creation of Aesa Zwierlein, a Class Twelve student at Little Yarra Steiner School. She conducted an exploration into the ethical concerns of an artist in late-capitalist society over the duration of this year, investigating this topic through research involving interviews, conversation, historical inquiry, and most importantly her own experiences, views, and beliefs. This exploration has culminated into its own philosophy and metaphor for how the artist sees the world through the neurodivergent artist's lens, by looking at opposite and complimentary relationships within the world, humanity, and society. Things such as money and creativity, science and spirituality, the natural environment and the human-made, the feminine and masculine, dark and light, etc, have inspired and fuelled this investigation, ultimately resulting in a way of thinking that complements the artists own belief systems, which is intrinsically, outside of the typical way of thinking.


The piece uses mainly recycled materials such as repurposed commercial cardboard boxes and second-hand paint, using borrowed or artists' own equipment. This ultimately compliments the themes of the material and the commercial world being so damaging to the earth, ecologically and ethically, by saying that materials should be responsibly repurposed and recycled to reflect those impacts. This theme is also suggested in the venue: the café is also a place of trade and commerce, although as a place of commerce, it creates and supports community and is resonant with the warmth and love that goes into the food and people.

This project stemmed from the lockdown of 2020 when Aesa started plans for a business and was exploring commissioning her own art. With the initial idea to profit off her skills and create a future for herself after school, it soon turned unenjoyable as the pressures and expectations of her work caused her to lose her passion for what she was making. This inspired her to look at what the impact of pressure, in the form of money, on artists and creatives actually meant, and to see where else it happens in the broader context of society.


"All aspects of me from how I speak, think and feel is considered outside the box, I feel as if I simply don’t have a box to think out of, since I’m already outside of one"   


The discovery of dyslexia, a common learning disorder that impacts phonological expression and comprehension, is reflected heavily in this work. This aided her exploration into becoming something so intrinsically connected to how her brain works, that the artwork is an expansion and visual representation of how a dyslexic person thinks. ​


The emerging artist will continue on this path of art-making and self-discovery, pioneering a way for other creatives, non-atypical people, and artists. Wherever it may take her this installation is only the start.