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Question of the Day
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) - Santa Brink was in her seven-month-old gallery, Artworks the Galleria of Fine Art at Fort Wayne’s Jefferson Pointe, when in walked a tall young man, with longish curly brown hair and glasses.
“He said, ‘I’m an artist, and this is what I do. And oh, I’m on the autism scale,’” she tells The Journal Gazette (http://bit.ly/1c12Ng3 ).
Other gallery owners might not have known how to react. For Brink, however, it was second nature. She’d spent many years working with children with learning disabilities and other special needs as a teacher and educational consultant to parents and schools.
She knew people with autism could be quite creative and shouldn’t be dismissed because of what some might see as a disability.
After looking at his fanciful drawings, she quickly welcomed Allen into her growing cadre of exhibiting artists. His work is now included in one of the gallery’s current exhibits, “Expressions: Artists and Autism,” which also features the work of potter Sean Patrick Gray of Indianapolis, who also has autism.
The show continues until March 8.
Brink, 65, says she wants to continue to open a portion of the gallery to artists with what she calls “exceptionalities.” Among them might be people with mental or physical illness, non-traditional learning styles, attention deficit disorder or other circumstances that might seem to limit their lives.
For those with autism, a condition that affects how they perceive and relate to their environment, art can be a window into and out from their world, she says.
“How they experience life from the day they were born is different from the so-called normal person,” she says. “We get to see a piece of that.”
One recent day, Frank Louis Allen, 33, was standing in front of a 3-by-5-foot canvas at Artworks, black marker in hand, working on a new drawing.
From the top right corner peers a face - of a lion, Allen says, but it also might be that of an old man. To its left, there’s the head and wing of an eagle, though it might be an owl.
Toward the center sits the head of a horse, and toward the bottom right, three squids seem to have settled on the head of a person like a string mop.
Like in most of his work, where images morph one into another, Allen is allowing this drawing to unfold. He says he doesn’t plan anything ahead of time - that would make him too anxious, he says.
He just focuses on a small piece of the drawing at a time.
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