Local Artists On the Spectrum Hosting Art Exhibition This Saturday!
By Kami-Leigh Agard
As the curtain comes down on Autism Awareness Month, local autistic artists, William Hernandez and Grace Moroney, are hoisting them back up with their first exhibition at Rockaway Roasters this Saturday, May 6, 11 a.m. to 12 p.m., presented by Rockaway Beach Autism Families.
This is an idea that I’ve had for a long time, and it’s finally happening, thanks to Roasters’ owner, Ziv Karasanti, and the support of the artists’ parents, Ivonne Colon and Christine Moroney.
So, what does creativity look like on the spectrum? (By the way, fun fact: sculptor, painter, architect and poet, Michelangelo, born in 1475, is thought to have had an extreme fixation on his work. He had difficulty with emotional regulation, had trouble with social interactions, and thrived on strict routines).
With William, a fine arts painter, and Grace, an illustrative graphic artist, though their mediums are worlds apart, their respective imaginations eclipse any preconceived notion about what constitutes a brilliant mind—thus, looking beyond the autism label. And, as I say over and over again—when you’ve met one person on the spectrum, you’ve met exactly one person on the spectrum.
When asked what inspires his work, 26-year-old William, a self-taught fine arts artist, said, “Each piece motivates me to keep getting better and better. I started drawing when I was 13 years old, then I painted my first canvas when I was 20. I just want to keep improving and learning as an artist, and the process is what makes it even more satisfying and motivating.” William also started his own face painting business when he was just 15 years, and has been commissioned for several events, not just all over the Rockaway peninsula, but in other parts of Queens and Brooklyn.
As for 22-year-old Grace, who has her associates degree in graphic design from Kingsborough College, and in her elementary years, attended local Catholic school, St. Rose of Lima; and the Rockaway Artist Alliance’s Camp Kids Smart, one wonders how she conjures up these images using words as her ‘paint’ brush. She shared, “I always liked art since I was young, and when I was in high school, I joined the art club, and became hooked when I was introduced to graphic design. My teacher gave us a project to make words into a shape, and for my first project, I chose a peach. For example, with the American flag piece, I used words associated with what being an American is about, created a design and then it just flowed. It’s all about perspective.”
So, folks, come out and show some Rockaway love for William and Grace, who will be selling their artwork, giving them a boost of confidence that the community sees them for their immense talent.
The “Meet and Greet the Autistic Artists” art reception and exhibit is this Saturday, May 6, 11 a.m. at Rockaway Roasters (92-06 Rockaway Beach Blvd.). Also, the next day on Sunday, May 7, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., Rockaway Beach Autism Families is hosting “An Afternoon at the Movies” at Knights of Columbus (333 Beach 90th Street). Be amazed as the Knights transforms into a movie theater with a 150-inch-wide screen, popcorn, and more goodies! Free! For more info, visit: Rockaway Beach Autism Families on Facebook/Instagram or email: email@example.com. Hope to see you! “Join us in turning the tide for the autism community, one wave at a time.”