Sylvia Burnstein (she/her/hers)
“Her art offers faith to individuals who struggle with being "different” as well as connects us to a new dimension of possibilities beyond the appearance of disabilities.”
For Sylvia, art is not only a hobby, but a way to express her inner thoughts and emotions with colors and advocate for the vast abilities of individuals living with autism. Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at the age of 3, Sylvia was always creative but didn’t yet have an outlet to express it. She used to break eggs on the floor and turn the yolk into a sun and moon or use toothpaste and lipstick to create visual images. Around this time, her older sister brought home a pack of crayons from school one day. When Sylvia saw the colorful crayons, she nearly ran to the desk to grab a crayon to color the pictures. This moment forever changed her course.
Sylvia began coloring everyday. She fell in love with the vast color options and freedom to create whatever she pleased. Her mom shares, “While having significant speaking and learning difficulties, art has become the key to unlocking the door for her. When she can't communicate with us, she can draw images to help us understand her better.” Over time, art became her favorite language and way to focus. She became deeply engrossed in her practice.
As she grew older, Sylvia was exposed to painting and fell in love with that as well. Sylvia's favorite materials are her paint bottles and paint brushes. These make her feel intimately connected to her materials because she can choose to pour her paint into a way that she wants, then use the brushes to swirl patterns to express her emotions. Her mom shares, “She feels free, as if nothing is holding her back and escapes into another world when she is painting.” During her creative sessions, she focuses only on the piece she is working on. Art has helped her develop a strong sense of focus which helps her in her schoolwork and beyond.
Sylvia likes to start her day with painting a piece at three in the morning. She will have a new canvas prepared and her water bowl and paintbrushes set up for her, and she will immediately dive in and reach for the bottles of paint as if she already knows and pictures what the piece will look like. She creates these pieces until it's time to leave for school, and resumes painting or drawing as soon as she gets home.
In addition to her abstract paintings, Sylvia also enjoys creating her own detailed characters with their own original fashion and hairstyles which shows off her imaginative side. She also uses an iPad to paint digital characters and buildings. Her mom shares that “she loves every single beautiful thing” and therefore is never at a loss for inspiration.
For Sylvia, art brings joy, interaction, and a potential career. “Art helps Sylvia to boost her confidence and be resilient,” shares her mom. Sylvia feels ecstatic when people appreciate and compliment her artwork, which is why she hopes to continue spreading her art to others. Her mom shares that it is important to her to be recognized for her talent and she wants to show that people with autism have immense potential and gifts to share beyond their diagnosis. Her most important accomplishments are the thousands of art pieces she created and she has sold, and her multiple documentaries featuring her.
Sylvia's dreams for the future are to have her artwork shared with everyone! Additionally, she would also like to live in a big household with her family and have her own personal chef who could cook her delicious chicken meals (her favorite!). When she's not creating or at school, she enjoys watching movies, browsing other art on social media, and learning how to cook her own meals. She also volunteers as part of her schoolwork, assisting with recycling efforts and cleaning trash in her community. Sylvia’s future is bright and ArtLifting is ecstatic to be able to share her work and her story.read more
Prints by Sylvia Burnstein (she/her/hers)
ArtLifting champions artists impacted by homelessness or disabilities through the celebration and sale of their artwork. Learn more here.