courtesy of Strokes of Genius
Justin Canha, is a very successful artist and art instructor who happens to have Autism.
His work has been featured in numerous galleries, museums, and universities throughout the U.S. He has also been the subject of several documentaries including one featured at the MOMA.
Justin doesn’t let anything hold him back, he speaks his mind and loves to express himself through art. He has been drawing since he was five years old.
“He has several part-time jobs including as an Assistant Elementary School Art Teacher, a bakery cake/cupcake/cookie decorator and as a freelance Artist and Children’s Book Illustrator. Read the New York Times 2011 article about Justin, “Autistic and Seeking a Place in an Adult World“.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. -CDC
He also teaches a course in comic book stripping, which I got to attend!!
I was first introduced to Autism by my mother, Dr. Rosa C. Martinez. She works with children as well as adults on the autism spectrum. Throughout my life I have seen the amazing things that people with autism can do. She is the President of Strokes of Genius, Inc; a nonprofit that works to empower individuals with autism. The focus is on Autism ABILITIES (Don’t ‘dis’ the ability!)
My mother is such a huge inspiration and I have always found her to be very brave. Justin is one of the many artists that I have met through her efforts.
Dr. Martinez was so impressed by Justin’s art skill and passion to share his talent that she asked him to teach a course and he enthusiastically accepted.
The course is 90 minutes long on Saturday mornings.
All of the students in the session have special needs. However over 90% are students on the autism spectrum, including the instructor Justin. Justin is a highly recognized artist and is represented by a gallery in the art mecca of SOHO. He kept the class engaged, motivated and communicating.
I really enjoyed the class,and enjoyed discussing comics and cartoons with Justin and his students. Justin spoke about dialogue and the importance of communication. He expressed that characters in television, cartoons, and movies all need communication. He talked about the need for “speech bubbles” in comics to help the pictures communicate.
“His childhood passion and whimsical style for drawing and painting animals, plants and cartoon characters showcase his clever sense of humor and unusual sensitivity to nature, human and animal relationships. Justin also creates emotive charcoal portraits and paintings as well as computer-generated animations of invented characters. ” -Strokes of Genius
Justin is truly an inspiration to his students and an amazing artist! To see some of Justin’s amazing art, go to his GALLERY Page.
Here is a video of me chatting with Justin about his influences, and the class talking cartoons!
I took a look at his sketchbook, and I was very impressed by his artwork. He can draw almost any animal, with such exquisite detail.
He expressed how he loves to help people to draw, both kids and adults alike.
Justin prefers to use mechanical pencils, and watercolor is his favorite medium of paint; because he enjoys mixing colors. He also likes oil paint, but prefers to work in water color.
He loves Batman, Superman, and Spider-Man. He is also hugely influenced by Disney; he loves Mickey and Donald. During the class he talked a lot about old cartoons like Tom and Jerry, Looney Tunes, and Hanna Barbera classics.
To see more of Justin’s art
Visit Justin’s facebook page
Visit Justin’s website
One of the students Isaiah drew a sketch of me during class!
Schedule: Saturday sessions
Dates: (Feb. 4, 18); (Mar. 4, 18); (Apr. 1, 22); (May 13, 27)
Time: 11am – 12:30 pm
Train The Talent℠ @ The 14th Street Y
344 E. 14th Street (between 1st and 2nd ave)
New York, NY 10003
Class Size: Maximum 8 students
Sources: http://strokesofgeniusinc.org/cartooning_class http://strokesofgeniusinc.org/participating_artists/justin_canha https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/index.html http://justincanha.com/