42 Maple Contemporary Art Center announced the culmination of their recent collaboration with Autism Speaks, an advocacy organization that sponsors research and conducts awareness and outreach activities at an international level. These two organizations joined forces and opened an international call for art to celebrate the talents of many gifted artists who have Autism Spectrum Disorder.
During the month of April, the Gallery at 42 will be filled with original artwork from both Canada and the United States, and on the night of the opening reception, the art center will be illuminated blue to celebrate World Autism Awareness Day.
Adopted by the United Nations in 2007 to shine a bright light on autism as a growing global health priority, World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD) occurs every year and celebrates Autism Speaks’ international “Light It Up Blue” campaign. Thousands of iconic landmarks, skyscrapers, schools, businesses, and homes across the globe, from the Pyramids of Giza to the Eiffel Tower, unite by shining bright blue lights in honor of the millions of individuals and families affected by autism.
From art medium to geographical location to the age of each artist, the Unspoken Words exhibition in fundamentally diverse at every level. The youngest participant is a mere three years old, and yet another participant has shipped paintings from Alberta, Canada. Many of the artists who were selected for this exhibition will be on-hand the night of the opening reception, as well as representatives from the Autism Speaks organization itself.
Of the ten participants, only three are regionally based. Isaac Rader of North Conway, New Hampshire, draws magnificently detailed cityscapes, as well as wolves and weaponry. When asked about his creative process, Isaac said “Part of autism is a difficulty to communicate. I’m usually the one in the room with the least severe diagnosis, but at the moment, I’m having a very hard time communicating exactly how much I am in debt to my elementary school art teacher, June McLeavey. Ms. McLeavey is a woman to whom I owe every stroke of pencil you see. Without her effort to teach someone like me, who had drive but little knowledge, I wouldn’t have been able to draw animals because I’d have no sense of proportion.”
As part of Bethlehem’s monthly First Friday art events, 42 Maple Contemporary Art Center will also be showcasing the works of Bethlehem Elementary School students in the Lost Dog Salon. Through a partnership with Nicole Knowlton, Bethlehem Elementary School’s new art teacher, this group show will feature a new body of works from BES students that has not been seen before.
The opening reception for UNSPOKEN WORDS will be Friday, April 1, from 7 to 9 p.m. and will be on display until May 2.