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have a conversation about art with Joyce Raimondo

Art and Autism

Every year brings new connections to people through art. Ending 2013, I had the pleasure of teaching an adult artist with autism -- Carrie. I provided Carrie with acrylic paint supplies, canvas, and painter's tape to create lines and shapes. I offered visual cues and simple directions on how to mix colors on her palette, properly wash paint brushes, and apply tape to the canvas. Non-verbal, Carrie responded by spontaneously applying color with a complete focus. With utter joy, I observed for 1 1/2 hours as Carrie let the colors and paint freely flow from her brush to create beautiful patterns, blended colors, and movement. Next, building social skills, I accompanied Carrie by working with her on a painting together. It was humbling for me -- with a Masters Degree in Fine Art-- to paint alongside my student, because Carrie had the ability to be completely focused and "at one" with the painting without judging her work as she progressed, whereas I was distracted by my own knowledge and expertise of "how to" paint. Carrie's ability to paint is not only a pleasure Carrie, it is a gift to the world to produce beautiful paintings while creating awareness of the significant artistic contributions people with autism can make.

In searching for follow up art activities for Carrie, her mother and I found that the only art program specifically geared to adults on Long Island is offered by The Queens Museum of Art. If you know of an art program for adults with autism in Suffolk or Nassau County - please let us know. Here's to nurturing and celebrating everyone's unique gifts in 2014.
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