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Justin Canha, 19, is an accomplished artist. He also happens to be autistic.
His childhood passion for drawing animals and cartoon characters revealed an innate talent that attracted the attention of the mainstream art community when Justin was 14 years old.
Justin explores a wide range of subjects that showcase his clever sense of humor and unusual sensitivity to human and animal relationships. Using characters all his own, Justin’s computer animations are full of action-packed stories, while his paintings celebrate still life and portraiture. His charcoal drawings have an innocent and ethereal quality that capture, for example, poignant moments between friends or love between mother and child.
In sum, Justin’s drawings and illustrations demonstrate the intensity and perspective of the autistic mind and serve as a powerful form of communication.
Justin began his artistic career at the age of 13 with the support of Arts Unbound. Since the age of 15, Justin has been represented by the Ricco/Maresca Gallery in NYC and was its featured artist in the Autism/Aspergers Art Exhibit in New York City in January 2005. Justin’s animations received an honorable mention by Jerry Saltz, who juried the Studio Montclair Exhibit, “Taboo,” in May 2005. Justin’s work has also been exhibited at The Cooper Union in New York and at Montclair State University in Montclair, NJ. Justin has had solo exhibits at The Montclair Public Library in Montclair, NJ, Pace University in NYC, The JCC in Manhattan, and Bloomfield College in Bloomfield, NJ.
In August 2006, Justin’s artwork was featured in O Magazine. Aspects of his autistic and artistic life have been described in three documentaries, “Autism: A Different Way of Communicating”, “Sidecars”, and “Arts” , as well as in a new book, “Artism Anew”. In January 2008, Justin successfully made his world debut at the Outsider Art Fair in NYC. In April 2008, his artwork was shown at Art Chicago, the world-renowned international contemporary and modern art fair. Most recently, Justin’s artwork was exhibited at the Morris Museum in “Timeless: The Art of Drawing” in Morristown, NJ. Coming up in 2009, the Ricco/Maresca Gallery will feature Justin’s artwork in a one-person show.
Illustration commissions include the cover for Paula Kluth’s book, “Just Give Him the Whale,” and all the drawings for “Pedro’s Whale,” a children’s book by the same author, to be released in 2009. Justin has also been commissioned to illustrate a whole new line of math teaching books for young children on the spectrum called IBET (Integrated Behavioral Experiential Teaching). He is also working on the illustrations for a book entitled, “It’s Not a Problem,” by Ron Pecarek.
Currently a student at Montclair High School, Justin has been taking college level courses in cartooning and animation at Bloomfield College, Montclair State University and Pace University during the past couple of years.