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Battling Autism with Creativity

By ALISHA DANIELLE M. GREGORIO

THERE ARE certain individuals whose interpersonal skills are significantly tested; they feel held back or shy when it comes to connecting with other people.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a set of developmental disorders which affects a person’s social interaction and communication. People with ASD ages physically but their intellectual growth could be slow or delayed. However, having this condition is no hindrance to some extremely talented individuals. The Center for Campus Art in De La Salle College of St. Benilde introduced Design, Art, Autism, a celebration of remarkable talent set forth by artists with ages ranging from 16 to 42, all of whom are diagnosed with ASD.

The exhibit, which was designed by Mr. PJ Almera, was intended to have its visitors experience what it feels like to have ASD. From the widely exaggerated shapes and colors of the walls, to the various television screens in every corner releasing soft, spoken words of the artists’ and their families’ interviews, the gallery’s visitors will certainly be immersed in a different environment where they can be surrounded by complexity, expression, and incredible talent.

photo by ANA BARBARA S. SAN DIEGO
photo by ANA BARBARA S. SAN DIEGO

1.) Vico Cham’s Cleopatra is produced from acrylic on canvas and highlights the use of metallic patterns and curved lines in order to create a lively depiction of one of ancient Egypt’s iconic faces. His cartooned version of the famous Cleopatra features a young woman with pursed lips, wide eyes, and long hair whilst adorned with an elaborate headdress and other gold embellishments.

photo by ANA BARBARA S. SAN DIEGO
photo by ANA BARBARA S. SAN DIEGO

2.) Karl Oliveros, 42, is acknowledged for his wide variety of landscapes, plants, flowers, and other objects, as well as using varied media to create his artworks such as charcoal, and oil. Oliveros is known by his family to be passionate in the arts. His piece “Untitled” uses acrylic on canvas and showcases small, dainty, purple flowers thriving amid leaves and blooming buds, which seems to describe the artist himself—a beautiful, timid creation flourishing among the world’s creatures.

photo by ANA BARBARA S. SAN DIEGO
photo by ANA BARBARA S. SAN DIEGO

3.) “Enjoy my art, carry a piece of my heart” were the words of Julyan Harrison to his audience which is imprinted on the wall of his gallery. He is known for creating masterpieces out of subjects from his daily life. Harrison, as one of the country’s well-respected artists with ASD, created his masterpiece “Chance,” which is by far one of the most interesting pieces in the gallery. It features an artwork bursting with life and color that will be hard to miss for passers-by. It is produced using varied media, specifically trash turned art, and is composed of disposables such as old cloth, peanut shells, crushed cans, and other items all blended together with different combinations of vibrant colors. The artwork is as unique as the artist, emerging as complex and beautiful amidst the world’s toxicity.

photo by ANA BARBARA S. SAN DIEGO
photo by ANA BARBARA S. SAN DIEGO

4.) “Life Goes On” by the 16-year-old Jorel Alegre is a wonderful piece produced from acrylic on canvas. It showcases a quiet and peaceful field of grass, variously-shaped tree stumps, as well as a combination of purple, pink, blue, and white flowers scattered across a bright and spacious clearing. Alegre is one of the youngest rising artists with ASD as he began painting at the very young age of six and flourished from there.

Individuals diagnosed with ASD are called ‘special’, and indeed they are because true passion and uniqueness comes from within. Truly, talent lives within those with genuine passion for the arts.

Tristan Tantuico, an industrial design student, exhibit-goer, and art lover said “autism is a condition where one is gifted with a beautiful mind, but not the beautiful most can perceive. Instead, it is a beauty that is for many hard to understand and accept. It is the beauty within their minds that the world must learn to love.”

Design, Art, Autism is on display until July 29 at SDA Gallery, 12th floor of De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde School of Design and Arts, located at 950 Pablo Ocampo Street, Malate, Manila. F

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