For those who do not know, April is Autism Awareness Month. The autism society launched a nationwide mission to bring awareness to autism nearly 25 years ago.
Autism Spectrum Disorder is a complex developmental disability affecting an individuals ability to communicate and interact with others. Autism cannot be cured, but with treatment, it can be helped.
In honor of Autism Awareness Month, The Root highlighted a black autistic British artist.
The work of this gifted artist is known to be spectacular and one of a kind art work.
Stephen Wiltshire, a British architectural artist with autism, is known for his ability to draw exact replicas of landscapes, skyscrapers and skylines from memory, after only seeing the structure once.
Born in London, United Kingdom, Stephen was diagnosed with autism at the age of three. Often staying to himself and attaining the characteristics of being a mute, it was recognized that Stephen only communicated in a world where words did not exist but art did.
Stephen had no initial language and lived in a world of his own. At age five Stephen was sent to Queensmill school in London, where the school instructors encouraged him to speak by temporarily taking away his art supplies so that he would have no choice but to ask for them back. Just like world renowned painter Pablo Picasso, Stephen’s first words were “paper” and “pencil”. It wasn’t until the age of nine that Stephen eventually learned how to speak fully.
Before Stephen was even a teenager, a request from British prime minister to create a drawing of Salisbury Cathedral, earned him his first commission at the age of 8.
Labeled as “possibly the best child artist in Britain” by Hugh Casson, a former president of the Royal Academy of Arts, Stephen went on to publish more than three books: Drawings (1987), Cities (1989), Floating Cities (1991), and after traveling to America his fourth book was completed, entitled American Dream (1993).
These books featured extravagant art work such as early sketches, imaginary metropolises, drawings, made on tours to Venice, Amsterdam, Lenigrad and Moscow, and cityscapes of Chicago, San Francisco and New York.
Stephen has toured all over the world drawing cities and architectural structures. In 1992, Stephen was invited to a Tokyo-based television company to tour Japan and make drawings of multiple landmark structures including the Tokyo government building located in Shinjuku.
Gifted and extraordinarily talented, Stephen appeared in another BBC documentary in 2001. In this documentary Stephen was filmed flying over London. During this helicopter ride Stephen was filmed completing an intricate aerial view illustration of a four square-mile area within just 3 hours.
It wasn’t until 2003 that the Orleans House gallery in England held Stephen’s first major exhibition of twenty years of work. More than 40,000 visitors attended the exhibition.
CLICK HERE to view full gallery
The largest drawing of his career is the Tokyo panoramic drawing of the city. He also embarked on a five day marathon, drawing on a six metered canvas on live television.
With the help of his sister, Annette and her husband, Zoltan, Stephen founded his own permanent art gallery in London’s Royal Opera Arcade.
150,00 visitors attended Stephen’s exhibition in just five days. This crowd set an attendance record in the history of the country.
Stephen Wiltshire is an inspiration to many, a hero to others and a legacy in the eyes of the autistic society.
Interested in getting involved in the autism society? CLICK HERE to learn how !