EL senior pens book about autism

Elk Lake senior Bethany Walters reflected on her experiences with Asperger Syndrome in her manga-style book ‘Rolling Girl.’ STAFF PHOTO/PAT FARNELLI

Elk Lake senior Bethany Walters reflected on her experiences with Asperger Syndrome in her manga-style book ‘Rolling Girl.’ STAFF PHOTO/PAT FARNELLI

BY MICHAEL WINTERMUTE
Times Shamrock Writer

For many, art is the purest form of expression – of communicating to others beyond the confines of mere conversation.

Certainly, that is the case for Elk Lake senior Bethany Walters who, for her senior project, conjured a comic book reflecting her experiences with Asperger Syndrome. “I’ve been able to draw ever since I could pick up a pen,” Walters said.

‘Rolling Girl,’ named after a Japanese pop song that Walters feels relates accurately to her “entire life,” is more than just a school project – it is her message to the world.

“Not many people in my life know exactly how my mind works. The comic book gets the point out there that not everyone thinks the same way,” Walters said.

The book was created in the Japanese ‘manga’ style, or what is more commonly known in America as ‘anime.’

It is a dramatic piece, based specifically on Walters’ struggles throughout her life with AS.

While her style is clearly rooted in her passion for Japanese culture, Walters’ artistic inspiration is a product of the world around her.
“My inspiration is actually very varied,” Walters said. “Most of my inspiration is from my thoughts and my mind and the world around me, and I’ve combined them to create something.”

Pamela Staats, one of Walters’ teachers at Elk Lake, has recognized the unique drive and talent in her student.

“She loves it and she’s very passionate about it,” Staats said.

To appease her seemingly insatiable urge to create, Walters is enrolled in the cosmetology school at the Susquehanna County Career & Technology Center.
There, she creates a different kind of art.

“She’s really good at applying makeup in cosmetology,” Staats said.
Walters’ focus is what is commonly known as ‘theatrical makeup,’ but she refers to it as ‘fantasy makeup.’

Applying this type of makeup is uniquely challenging when compared to applying makeup for everyday or formal use.

It requires extreme attention to detail as well as considering factors such as how lighting will affect the makeup, or how it will look from far away.
Of course, it fits right into Walters’ world of animation and fantasy. In a way, her endeavors all play into the same theme – to keep creating.

“I can express myself through art in so many different ways, and I can do it a lot better than just speaking or writing it out,” Walters said.

Walters, who turns 18 this week, has high hopes to attend an art institute to focus on animation.