People with autism spectrum disorder may not think or behave the same way as their peers. They may find communicating and relating to others difficult. According to the organization Autism Speaks, many autistic people have exceptional abilities in visual skills, music and academics.
That's certainly the case for Justin! By age four, he was using magic markers to express on paper what he couldn’t say in words, and it soon became clear that his love for art was more than just a passing childhood hobby. He moved on to charcoal, pastels, and watercolors, and used them to create uniquely bold, colorful, energetic works. Justin's vibrant paintings and drawings reflect “his sweetness, love of animals, and empathy,” says his mother, Maria Teresa. “If you say ‘draw this,’ he doesn’t have to look at a photograph. He can just draw it.” Plants and animals—birds, tigers, goats, dogs and wolves—are favorite subjects. Justin is also a gifted cartoonist and creates humorous, action-packed computer animations.
Justin’s work has been exhibited at Montclair State University in New Jersey, the Rhode Island School of Design, and Pace University in New York City. Also, he has illustrated several books and his paintings have been featured in Oprah magazine. Justin himself has appeared in three documentaries films.
Now in his mid-twenties, Justin works as a freelance illustrator and story boarder/animator, a part-time cake decorator, and an assistant elementary school art teacher. His goal is to live independently and have his own apartment. He is well on his way to achieving this dream!
No matter what path Justin follows, the world is richer for his beautiful art. “We’re thrilled and thankful for this tremendous gift that Justin has,” says Maria Teresa. Those fortunate enough to know Justin and is work all share her feeling.
Does Justin’s art “speak” to you? What do you like best about it?
You can see what Justin's been up to lately at http://www.facebook.com/justincanhasart.
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