For Autistic/Neurodivergent Visual and Literary Artists

January 11, 2023 - May 10, 2023

We tell stories and create because we are fighting for something. To be heard. To be seen. For our dignity. For our dreams. What we say, what we create, is part of who we are, it is a manifestation of identity. Our stories showcase our truth. Our truth is a torchlight. A flame we cultivate and carry with us to light our pathways and to fuel our pursuits.


Most existing narratives surrounding autism, neurodivergence, and disability are written by those who do not hold those identities, and many of those narratives perpetuate forms of oppression and harm on personal, interpersonal, institutional, and cultural levels.

The Torchlight Residency is designed BY the Autistic/Neurodivergent/Disabled FOR the Autistic/Neurodivergent/Disabled AND strives to shift these narratives across ALL communities. 

The Torchlight Residency embraces the creative potential of neurodiversity by curating a cohort-based program that respects the passions of Autistic/Neurodivergent artists and storytellers. It forges an artistic journey towards justice, empowerment, accessibility, visibility, and self-advocacy. 

Residents will engage in one of two self-determined pathways, visual art or literary art. Cohorts will come together under the guidance of an Anchor Mentor and Guest Artists to develop their personal works and create a collaborative project. Together, mentors and residents will move through a curriculum on disability justice, neurodiversity, art/words as activism, and self-advocacy. They will learn and discuss these themes as a group and use these conversations to deepen their work on the collaborative project.


Throughout the program, residents will have the opportunity to learn and practice new techniques, receive feedback, make connections with established artists, develop self-advocacy skills, and see ways they could center their passions and talents in their post-secondary pursuits. 

Collaborative Projects will be shared publicly at the end of the residency in May. Residents will be a part of determining the ways in which this work will be shared.  


WHO SHOULD APPLY: Autistic/Neurodivergent/Disabled students and young adults, ages 16-25, who exhibit unique talent and passion for visual or literary arts. All backgrounds are encouraged to apply, especially those who identify as people of color and/or members of the LGBTQ+ community. The majority of positions will be held for students in the Occupational Course of Study Pathway or Extended Content Standards program in Durham Public Schools, which will count towards their internship requirement for graduation.


Durham Public Schools students will have access to applications through their schools. If you are interested in this residency, please contact your school-based job coach before Dec 9th, 2022.  If you are not in Durham Public Schools, please contact