Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Art Helps People With Disabilities Convey What It's Like

CHICAGO -- Louis DeMarco has trouble organizing his memories. He gets distracted by mirrors. So he corrals his mind by painting cloud charts -- grids of bright puffs that are labeled and ranked according to color. Or he sketches the landscape of Loudemar, a fantasyland he's created.
DeMarco, 24, of Chicago, also paints portraits, some of friends, some of himself. And he plays music -- bass, keyboard, guitar -- to express his thoughts in a manner that can be difficult when brain and lips don't connect properly.
He has autism, which encumbers his communication but fuels his creativity.
"Those on the autism spectrum tend to be prolific," said Rob Lentz, co-founder and program director of Project Onward , an art studio and gallery that supports the creative growth of visual artists with mental and developmental disabilities. "And they thrive on routine."

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