Exhibit by autistic artist

| 23/10/2008

(CNS): The National Gallery has collaborated with RBS Coutts to host ‘Icons of Cayman’ an exhibition of new works by Seth Chwast, an autistic artist from the US, that were inspired by a visit to Grand Cayman and the Sister Islands in 2008. The exhibit opens 25 October 6:00 to 9:00 pm, and runs through February 2009.

On 4 November and 13 January a 30-minute documentary by filmmaker Marni Deutsch that explores Chwast’s remarkable journey will be screened at 6:00 pm. Chwast and his mother, Debra, will be on island on the 13 and 14 of November and are set to appear at several in public engagements to discuss Chwast’s art and life with autism.

A release from the National Gallery says, ‘Seth Chwast is an accomplished artist. He is also autistic. He cannot safely cross the street by himself. He rarely speaks. His art, however, speaks volumes. It is moving and powerful and instantly conveys his contagious sense of joy.”

Diagnosed with autism as a very young child, Chwast lived for years in a world of roller coasters, haunted houses, and classical music. A dramatic change came in 2003, when at age 20 he took an oil painting class at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Chwast soon began describing his world in paint. It turned out that he has an innate ability to mix colors and create amazing works of art that reflect his vision of his world and the world around him.

In the years since he has exhibited internationally and his work resides in public and private collections. He has been twice documented on NBC’s Today Show; recently completed two solo exhibitions in the Galapagos Islands, and paintings for the Charles Darwin 200th anniversary celebrations, among other projects. Through art Chwast conveys his contagious sense of joy, happiness, and beauty, and his story inspires.

The artist’s mother, Debra, commented, “Seth’s art and his journey serve as a reminder that through creativity we canovercome the most challenging odds.”

Extensive student educational programming has been developed around the exhibition in conjunction with the Department of Education Services.

Head of Student Services, Department of Education Services, Brent Holt explained, “The Ministry of Education and Department of Education Services are proud to support The National Gallery during the Seth Chwast ‘Icons of Cayman’ exhibition.” He said, “Through coordinated activities both at the Gallery and within our schools throughout the time, we expect that this opportunity will lead to greater awareness and appreciation by teachers, students, and community members of the valuable contributions to Cayman society which come from our children and adults who may experience unique individual differences.”

All works on display will be up for sale with a percentage being donated to the artists’ charities and the outreach and education programmes of the National Gallery.

On Thursday 13 November at 6:00 pm Debra Chwast will join her son Seth to talk about his work and inspiration. On Friday 14 November at 7:30 am, mother and son will join other families in the Cayman Islands to share experiences of life with autism.

On 26 November, 28 January, and 25 February National Gallery curators will lead a lunchtime lecture discussing various aspects of the artist’s work. Complimentary lunch served.

For additional information or to book any of these events please call the Gallery on 945-8111 or e-mail Natalie at deputydirector.ng@candw.ky 

For more information on the educational programme or to book a tour, contact the National Gallery Outreach and Education Officer Kiran Denis via e-mail outreach.ng@candw.ky

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