Grace Goad's Art Finds Joy in the Abstract
April 28, 2016 18:33
The beneficial snowball effect that art has had within Grace Goad’s life began at age four, when her mother, Leisa Hammett, exposed her to the therapeutic effects of art therapy. After a year of trying the many different interventions that are typical for children with autism, such as behavioral intervention, occupational therapy, and educational therapy, Leisa was able to find a visual art therapist for Grace. Grace’s keen interest, ability, and response to creating art were enough for Leisa to approach it not only as therapy, but also as a celebration of Grace and her talent.
“Grace was a very hyperactive child then, and art […] it calmed her. It’s amazing to me to see what she could create and yet, even to this day, she’s not an individual who can talk to you in a full sentence. To me, it was just a way to lift her up and accentuate what she could accomplish.”
The therapeutic payoffs from art have found their ways into other aspects of Grace’s life, creating a cyclical ripple effect that encourages her artistic development. By partnering with various galleries and organizations such as ArtLifting, Grace has found a platform to continue creating.
As Leisa describes, the expenses that can accrue from being artist, let alone one living with autism, can stack up quickly. Though Leisa’s experience as Grace’s public relations agent has allowed her to knowledgeably market Grace online, platforms such as ArtLifting allow Grace to reach a wider audience.
“That’s why ArtLifting comes in and is so valuable—co-working with me, helping Grace, and also helping me. ArtLifting is taking her way beyond, to lots of audiences. I never would’ve done a [smartphone] case, probably. And even if I did, a lot of the stuff would be cost-prohibitive. I look at it as an additional income stream. I am so excited about ArtLifting.”
Currently, Grace is creating a series of artworks on 8 x 8 inch pieces of wood. Along with being more affordable (Grace also works with canvases, acrylic, and mixed media), Leisa has found that Grace “works better in smaller, more confined surfaces.” She hopes that Grace will be able to continue to create art at least twice a week once she graduates, as the existing state support structure for individuals with autism is sparse in some areas, especially once they exit the school system. The issue is an important one requiring more attention, according to parents like Leisa.
“Five hundred thousand individuals with autism are ageing out of their school services in a ten year span. We’ve gotta get busy. There’s not some place to land your foot, to step next. It’s just a great social need and a lack of priority.”
With Grace’s mother by her side and the support of her audience, her body of work continues to grow (Leisa estimates that Grace has created upwards of two hundred pieces thus far), and her potential continues to grow with it. For Leisa, the benefits are found simply and profoundly in joy:
I’m just happy that she finds so much joy in her art—that we have found a way for her to excel and contribute and to make her mark on the world. Grace does this because she is compelled to create. She does this because it is in her. She just loves to make art.
And Grace’s art is truly lovely to behold—a celebration of creation, for happiness’ sake.
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Photo of Grace Goad with paintbrush by Jerry Atnip
Photo of Grace Goad and Leisa Hammett by Ashley Hylbert
Photo of Grace Goad by Rebekah Pope