Local artist’s work on national display

ASHE COUNTY-Some artists wait years to see their work on wide display.

But at five years old, Joseph Martin Weaver didn’t have to wait very long.

The budding artist’s work is currently being featured in an exhibit at the Bethlehem, N.H.-based 42 Maple Contemporary Art Center. The exhibit, “Unspoken Words,” puts the work of Weaver and seven other artists with autism on display.

It’s part of a collaboration with a national autism advocacy organization called Autism Speaks that will run through May 2.

Weaver, who was diagnosed with autism roughly three years ago, had three of his works accepted by the exhibit.

“They asked artists both young and old from all across the United States who were on the Autism Spectrum to submit up to three pieces of their artwork to their Art Center for judging to be considered for showing in their exhibit,” Melissa Weaver wrote. “ All three of Joseph’s pieces were selected for the exhibit to be displayed. This was great opportunity to put Ashe County and his preschool, Ashe Development Day School out in public recognition. His artwork was done in his Pre-K, classroom that is taught by Miss Jessica Roland.”

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development, according to Autism Speaks.

“These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors,” the organization said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 68 people will be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, and in North Carolina, the rate is higher at one in 58. The number of North Carolinians with some form of autism comes in at more than 65,000 people.

The 42 Maple event is held in conjunction with World Autism Awareness Day.

Adopted by the United Nations in 2007 to shine a bright light on autism as a growing global health priority, World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD) occurs every year and celebrates Autism Speaks’ international “Light It Up Blue” campaign.

Thousands of iconic landmarks, skyscrapers, schools, businesses and homes across the globe, from the Pyramids of Giza to the Eiffel Tower, unite by shining bright blue lights in honor of the millions of individuals and families affected by autism, according to 42 Maple.

“From art medium to geographical location to the age of each artist, the Unspoken Words exhibition in fundamentally diverse at every level. The youngest participant is a mere three years old, and yet another participant has shipped paintings from Alberta, Canada,” according to 42 Maple.

Reach Adam Orr at 336-489-3058 or Twitter.com/AdamROrr.


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