Sunday, October 9, 2011

Autistic Artist: Justin Canha

An article in the New York Times from a few weeks ago profiled a young man named Justin Canha, who is a very interesting person. He loves to draw, and would like to be an animator or illustrator one day.

The article was about his struggles to find a job and live independently, and the "transition to adulthood" program* that is helping him to do that, but it also mentioned his art, and included a link to his website, where you can see a whole lot of his work, which includes charcoal and pastel drawings, comic strips and Flash animations.

I really like his "Carnivorous Plants" series; they look eerie and alien, but are beautifully colored. The drawings look representational and abstract at the same time, which is an effect I find mesmerizing.

Here are a few of my favorites:

*One thing that stood out to me, reading the article, was how intensively micromanaged his life seems to be! I notice this a lot about the lives of autistic people younger than I am, who have had behavioral therapy throughout their childhoods. I don't doubt that it's helping him learn to navigate the world, and I'm sure graduates of such programs end up better equipped for it than I am (maybe - one blogger has described behavioral therapy as taking away her ability to make decisions on her own, without "rules" to go by), but damn, if that were my life, with someone telling me how to spend every minute of every day, and getting on my case if I wanted to engage in "activities not directly related to finding a job"? I'd be a walking powder keg of fury. I don't respond well to control. I suspect that a large part of the reason I don't have a huge anger problem today is that I am used to having my boundaries respected; I don't feel like I have to explode and destroy things in order to be heard.


Adelaide Dupont said...

Really excited about the documentary Don't be interested.

And these carnivorous plants! Curvy and colourful. They are full of movement and structure. I seem to like the first and third ones best.

Reading about how Justin loves his work.

Having boundaries respected and being used to it...

Unknown said...

This guy is a brilliant artist and an exceptional animator . His drawings of animals are especially wonderful, capturing their personalities as well as their surface details. The next time I hear some asshole say that autistic people don't have imaginations, I will shove Justin Canha's artwork down their throat at gale wind force.

Pree said...

New reader here, non-autist, bookmarked you cause I fell in love with your writing, really sharp and nice ideas about so many things, and a sane and nice view about yourself and what "normal ones" would think as a problem. Want to read it all! Keep doing it, you're great to read. Just thought it would be nice to let you know that.
Best regards from Brazil,

Lindsay said...

Hi, Priscilla!

I'm really honored you think so highly of my writing; thank you so much for your comment.