The Visual Artists
SingSOS! held an art contest over the summer of 2009 for artists on the autism spectrum. We received many outstanding works, and in the end we selected one for our cover, others for the back and inside of our CD booklet, and one piece of art for each song. Click on the images below to see larger versions and for more information, including the songs the artworks were selected for.
Jonathan Lerman is an artist with autism and savant skills, currently residing in upstate New York. Jonathan was diagnosed with autism at approximately the age of two with an I.Q. of 57. His mother describes him as a normal, happy child who began to 「slip away」 into autism. Jonathan's verbal communication skills were very limited. His early drawings 「were a means of giving order to and assembling his fragmented visual world,」 as he suddenly began drawing at the age of 10. Jonathan had his first solo exhibition at the K.S. Art Gallery in New York in 1999. An article that appeared in The New York Times on January 16, 2002 gave his work national visibility. His story and work have been featured at the Outsider Art Fair, the "Today" show, 「48 Hours,」 and other international media. More information about Jonathan and his work can be viewed at the websites of the K.S. Gallery, Dr. Rosa Martinez and The Wisconsin Medical Society.
Kat Wyand is a freelance folk singer, audio editor and artist who attends Columbia College Chicago. She would love to study and record the songs of wolves in the wild. Kat enjoys supporting and finding support in other, often younger, students with Asperger's syndrome. Her website is katwyand.northmoonarts.com.
Amanda LaMunyon was born in Oklahoma. She began painting when she was seven years old. She was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome at the age of eight. She began reading at the age of four. In kindergarten she drew all her ABCs instead of cutting out pictures for them. This would be the first sign of Amanda's artistic ability. She had a difficult time staying in school. Her teachers said she could repeat all the rules but could not seem to apply them. She was a happy little girl but her spirit began to wane because of her seeming inability to fit in. Her art changed everything. Her spirit began to flourish once again. No longer did her peers see her only as a rowdy little girl who would not sit still, but now as an artist. She began to express herself through painting. Amanda loves to sing. At age nine, she began to paint her impression of the songs she loves. She says that she can share her faith through her art and that she wants to encourage others with learning differences or challenges in their lives not to give up, but to dream big dreams.
Because of her desire to encourage others, Amanda has emerged from an inward world to a world of giving and caring. She has become a prolific speaker about the 「world of autism」 that she lives in. Amanda sings and shares her art and her story with many charities to help raise money for children's health. Her greatest desire is to help find the cure for autism. She painted 「Girls Under the Umbrella」 for a book called Girls Under the Umbrella of the Autism Spectrum by Dr. Lori Ernsperger and Danielle Wendell, Autism Asperger Publishing Company (2007).
For more information, please visit www.AmandaLaMunyon.com.
Kevin Cooke is soft spoken and knows what he wants. He has a quiet strength and a great sense of humor. Kevin takes great pride in his painting and loves mixing colors and a variety of textures in his work. He continues to develop a style of his own. In addition to painting, photography is second nature to Kevin. He is enthusiastic about taking pictures outside and often transforms ordinary objects into compelling images. Kevin is also a great connoisseur of rock music.
Robert Otterbine loves to make people laugh. He always has a joke to tell, and a riddle or story to share. He has diverse interests and vast knowledge about a variety of topics including movies and famous people. When Robert was younger he created a number of short films. Robert loves to draw and is a great cartoonist. His artwork displays his keen sense of humor.
Ping Lian Yeak
Early in life, Ping Lian demonstrated poor fine motor control. In order to strengthen and develop his fine motor skills, his home schooling curriculum included tracing and coloring activities. These activities also served as a way to fill his time since Ping Lian was unable to engage in play activities. In mid-2002, at the age of eight, Ping Lian became obsessed with art. The transition from tracing to drawing happened almost instantly. One day after he had finished eating an ice cream cone he just started drawing the pictures that were printed on the ice cream wrapper. He has not stopped drawing since. From simple, childish sketches, Ping Lian's style evolved to a more sophisticated level. His art work has been well-received by all quarters and many have commented on his unique signature style. Ping Lian's work, 「Ubudiah Mosque I,」 generated RMYR100,000.00 ($30,000) in a charity auction. In 2006, Ping Lian's mother, Sarah SH Lee, uprooted the entire family and moved to Sydney, Australia. In August 2009, Ping Lian was honored with the opening of his own permanent gallery of works at the Art Commune of Malaysia. Ping Lian, now 15, continues to create magnificent works of art using charcoal, acrylic, watercolor, ink and oil pastels. His works have been featured in exhibitions in the U.S., U.K., Australia, Germany, Japan and Malaysia. A book about Ping Lian is scheduled to be completed in 2010. More details are available at the website of Dr. Rosa C. Martinez and Ping Lian's website.
Nicholas Wong, eight, lives in Providence, RI with his family. Diagnosed with autism in 2005, Nicholas has used the Doodle Pro as a means to communicate with others, primarily through his drawings. With this device, which never leaves his side, he can be observed creating simple stick figures to amazingly detailed 3-D 「masterpieces.」 When he is not drawing or making the world smile with him, he enjoys singing to legendary songmakers like Bob Marley, Ravi Shankar and The Beatles, dancing, watching a favorite movie, curling up with a good book, or just being a typical eight-year-old boy.
Candace "Candy" Waters from Park Ridge, IL is a beautiful redheaded nine-year-old girl who has autism. Candace likes painting, music, swinging, playing in water, jumping and pizza. Candace is the inspiration for the song "Faith, Love & Hope,」 written by her parents Robert and Sandy. Her song has influenced and inspired politicians, autism organizations and most importantly parents around the world. She is also the inspiration for the radio program "The Candy Store" on Autism One Radio. Candace is happy to share her song with other parents to let them know that they are not alone in their struggles and to never give up on "Faith, Love & Hope." She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. "The Candy Store" on Autism One Radio can be heard around the world online.
Daniel Malinsky has recently discovered his gift for drawing and has even surprised himself with his own ability. His work is often related to movies, movie characters and his own fantasy characters. Daniel has a great wit and sense of humor, which is noticeable in his art. He is also intrigued by darkness and likes to photograph low light images without the use of flash. Daniel is very knowledgeable about movies, particularly from the 60s and 70s. He is also a lover of music and an author.
Maria is a Greek artist with autism. Maria's greatest sense of self, of connecting with the world around her, comes from participating in the arts: drawing, painting, poetry, dance, acting, yoga and photography. An artist with talents on many hidden, unique levels, Maria also produces handmade macramé plant hangers, macramé tables and flower arrangements. Maria organized her own autism group, Athena Autistic Artist, and a Long Island, NY TV show of the same name. Maria interviews people on the autism spectrum and professionals who work with autism. Maria is advocate, director and producer for Athena Autistic Artist, which airs Monday at 7 pm Hauppauge/Brookhaven and Tuesday 7 AM Woodberry, channel 20.
Maria's work was selected for the greeting cards made by the Autism Society of America in 2007, 2008 and in 2009. Maria has won awards for her poetry. Maria's paintings have won ribbon awards at an art show and have been displayed in libraries, banks, etc. thoughout Long Island. Maria is fortunate to have a unique understanding of a vast range of features that explain the autism spectrum.
D.J. Svoboda was diagnosed with autism at the age of three. During his school age years he went through some very difficult times. He was often picked on and made fun of. It was from these experiences that his Imagifriends were born. The Imagifriends live in a place called Imagiville. In this imaginary place no one is ever picked on or mistreated in any way. Everyone is loved and accepted for who and what they are. Each Imagifriend that he draws is different. They come in many sizes, colors and designs. None of them are ever mean or cruel. They each have their own special job and purpose in Imagiville. D.J. wants to use the Imagifriends to help others with autism know that they are special 「just the way they are.」 He has designed a coloring book for children and written a book about his experiences with autism. He also draw Imaginames, where he takes letters of a name and designs an Imagifriend connecting them. His art was chosen by the Autism Society of America for their Autism Puzzle Project. He says, 「Being autistic has presented me with many challenges in my life. From those challenges I have learned to never give up. Even those with autism can make a difference in this world and deserve to be accepted and treated with respect. I donate a portion of all I make to my wonderful church, Hope Community Church and various autism organizations. I want to thank the Lord for giving me the talent to draw."
Claude Jaques is truly a multi-talented artist. Claude is a jazz musician, who learned to play by ear, and has performed at Carnegie Hall. Whether he is playing piano, writing, painting or drawing, Claude gets totally absorbed in whatever he is doing. He has been drawing since childhood and his artwork shows his attention to detail and refined sense of color combinations. His art reflects a joyful, patient and thoughtful style.
At just 20 years old, Justin Canha has already established himself as a recognized artist and illustrator. Justin began by making pet portraits for friends and family at the age of 12. In 2005, at the age of 15, he was introduced to the New York art scene as a gallery artist of the Ricco Maresca Gallery. Since then Justin's career has blossomed, with showings at the Outsider Art Fair, The Morris Museum, Princeton University and a number of public and private gallery exhibitions. In the past 12 months Justin has completed commissions for the illustration of two children's books and starred in the documentary, 「Sidecars.」 Justin is currently studying illustration at Montclair State University and working in the community in Montclair, NJ.