Abstract Art, Autism, and Beauty: An April Spotlight on Grace Goad and Leisa Hammett
April 22, 2016 21:52
Grace Goad began experimenting with color and composition when she was four years old. By age six, she was exhibiting her art and sold her first piece just two years later. Her stunning artwork—a plethora of tints, tones, and hues that display a natural affinity for color combination and arrangement—is promoted by her staunchest advocate: Leisa Hammett, Grace’s mother.
As is often the case for parents of talented children, Leisa had to learn early that she couldn’t hold a monopoly on Grace’s work: “It took me from [age] six to eight to realize that I couldn’t hold onto every piece and that this was not my work. I needed to let it go and let other people have it and purchase it.”
Grace was diagnosed with moderately severe autism as a child, and as such lives with intellectual disabilities and a severe language and speech disorder. Even portions of her grasp are slightly affected, but her art speaks volumes where words cannot.
“There’s something special, and that’s something that I think is so important about art—it shows what can be done; it shows the exceptionality. It puts the focus on the beauty, the product—on what the person can create.”
Grace’s art is indeed beautiful. Her aptitude for color choice and composition, along with her incredible spirit, has landed her as a guest on ABC’s The View, multiple magazines and books (including The American Journal of Psychiatry and The Art of Autism: 2012 Edition), and other local and national media outlets. As Leisa describes, “Grace finally got an awareness of her art and how it is received when she was on The View. She got it. There was a television camera filming her, and they were there to talk about her art.”
The impact may seem minimal at first glance, but for Leisa and Grace, the positivity that has resulted from Grace’s art cannot be understated:
Of course, as is the case with many individuals like Grace, you never know how much she’s taking in and what she’s comprehending, and that’s always more than we realize. It’s just grown through the years. The other day, to see her watch the gallery owner where we hang her art, for her to actually look up and watch and focus on how the gallery owner was piecing her work together on the floor before she hung it up, just to be involved in that process—she gets engaged when she hands the art to the gallery owner. All of this is really basic, but it’s fundamental and it’s really good—it shows her being engaged.
Engagement was just one step in a much larger journey for Leisa and Grace—one that continues to raise awareness of the incredible talent on display by artists living with autism.
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Photo of Leisa Hammett by Hunter Armistead
Photo of Grace Goad and Leisa Hammett by Ashley Hylbert