JP just opened his first art exhibit of the year, “Happiness Behind the Mask” showing at the Cecil County Arts Council in Elkton, Maryland. His exhibit ran from July 2 – July 31, 2021.
Despite being born with Autism, JP has grown into an award winning photographer with a love of art and an eye for exceptional photographic imagery. In the process, he has earned a large following of fans and supporters who appreciate his unique vision of the world and talented artistry.
During the Covid pandemic, JP struggled like us all, but his optimism and passion for life fueled his work and helped remind all of us that there is beauty all around, even when life gets hard. His passion to create and share his vision is evident in his current exhibition, with dozens of original pieces of art that captures joy, happiness, beauty, and hope.
You can see JP’s work live at the Cecil County Arts Council through the end of July, and view his work online by visiting JP’s Facebook page.
Adversity can deal creativity a setback, but seldom stifles it. Jonathan Whitlock grew up with a love of drawing. He started drawing in second grade, and by age 15 he knew art was going to be his calling. He doodled constantly and took it upon himself to study the classic artists, particularly the cubists. He majored in Studio Arts at college and ended his freshman year with his first art exhibition.
June 1999 changed everything. During summer break back home in Lancaster PA, Jonathan sustained a traumatic brain injury when he was involved in a car accident. He remained in a coma for five months, and never regained his ability to walk or see out of one eye. When he emerged from that state, he had impaired muscle control and balance, a weakened left side, blindness in one eye, spasticity, and restarted his life confined to a wheelchair. Formerly left-handed, he had to train himself to be right-handed. It was ten months before he could pick up a paintbrush, but he persevered. He continues to regain his artistic instincts while exploring new creative paths and a broader stroke style.
Some of his art display nods to Picasso and Mondrian. Others are very personal, including a self-portrait that was begun in 1999, and was halfway done before the car crash. He completed it much later after his accident, bridging the gap between then and now. Jonathan uses his art to share his perspective on the world around him, and reflect his attitudes of acceptance, hope, and faith. He’s had successful shows at several art studios and remains confident that his future is in painting.
Dorrin was 24 years old and working a full-time job when he began to notice tremors in his neck. He had a suspicion about what was happening. All his life, his dominant right arm would clench and curl whenever he held something. It wasn’t until his senior year in high school that he was diagnosed with an incurable neurological movement disorder called Dystonia. He was told that it could get worse and spread. Over that life-changing year, the tremors would grow more violent and spread to his back and tongue.
Growing up, he spent most of his childhood in rural Indiana. Throughout high school, he found interest in his art classes and was drawn to abstract art. He would move to Pennsylvania in 2008 as part of his faith-based activities. Those had already taken him throughout his earlier life to places such as Guatemala, Albania and Ghana. He now lives permanently in Mountville, PA in affordable housing.
As his Dystonia got worse, his doctors recommended he quit his job. With his newly found free time, Dorrin struggled to find meaning in life. Eventually, his creative side began to form as he experimented with comic book collages. Now he works predominantly in the medium of acrylic painting and enjoys experimenting with new ways to use water effects and texture to bring his paintings to life.
Extensive physical labor and stress increased the effects of his Dystonia which means on bad days working on an art piece can take longer. Dystonia causes involuntary muscle movements and spasms. For Dorrin, it affects his tongue, arms, neck and back. Details in his art become more difficult to portray when he is unable to fully relax his muscles. He currently gets botox injections every three months.
Although limited in the physical work he can do, he has found passion and purpose in exercising his artistic talent. His artwork has become an inspiration to himself and many others. Dorrin gathers inspiration from the world as he sees it, and is always fascinated with the different interpretations of those who view his expressions.
While stress is still a trigger, Dorrin has recovered more control over his body by getting plenty of rest, working out with a trainer and getting botox injections. He hopes his story can be an inspiration to other people with disabilities and challenges, and to people of faith. He desires to write a book about his journey one day.
Jesse Buckwalter is an award-winning photographer in Lancaster PA. He is a young man with Asperger Syndrome, a form of autism. He overcomes many challenges as he continues to develop his talent for composing photographs. He has not mastered all the mechanics of the camera, but he has an eye for exceptional photographic composition.
He was first recognized when he won a first place prize for a photograph he had taken of a friend sitting on a sidewalk bench, entitled “Portrait of Dewey” in the Lancaster County Art Association Art Show. His talent was further validated when a Baltimore art dealer offered to buy a lighthouse picture he had taken as a gift for his father, titled “On a Clear Day.”
He likes to take pictures of local scenes, specializing in the coast of Maine and the farmland scenes around central Pennsylvania. He also enjoys music, movies, studying weather, walking and trying out local restaurants.
Jesse also now enjoys living in his own condo, with the help of arrangements made by ASPIE. He has a quiet and secure living arrangement that is crucial to his ability to function at his best, along with personal life skills assistance provided by local support service providers that enable his independence. And with the proceeds from his photography, he is able to cover the cost of independent living.
Despite physical limitations, Keven McCament continues to pursue what he loves. He was given very little chance of survival due to complications during his premature birth, living in the hospital for nearly two months of his life. He has survived and is thriving, but he has cerebral palsy and is unable to do many things independently. However, he paints with diligence. Keven cannot paint any two pictures that are alike due to his weak motor skills and poor vision. What he does incredibly well, is creative thinking. He knows what colors go well together, and he can create paintings without planning them out.
From his home in Mt. Vernon, Ohio, after allowing caregivers to put his choice of color paint on his canvas and placing the brush in his one useful hand, Keven happily begins painting. He paints abstract pictures that speak. Look to see what you can see and your heart can hear. Within his creations, the viewer can find many hidden treasures. From dolphins, to bears, to birds and more; if you look closely you can find a gem!
Keven has a buddy – his service dog Star. She is trained to pick up what he drops. Star then places the retrieved item on his lap or tray. Proceeds from his hobby help him purchase more art supplies and vet care as needed. He is delighted when someone requests his paintings. Keven desires to give hope. Physical limitations do not hinder him or the quality of his life. He is an inspiration to those who know him.
Craftsman | Woodworker
Tom has always had a creative spirit, from drawing cartoons, to writing stories, and building creative things from his imagination. However, once he was given an opportunity to learn about woodworking, this soon became his passion!
Tom started out making unique old fashion wooden toys for children. He gave much thought to the finished product and his toys turned out to be cute and fun to play with. Also, the paints and finishes he uses are not only bright and colorful but are safe for children.
Throughout the years, Tom honed his skills and now makes other products such as: pepper mills, jewelry boxes, and Christmas wreaths made of wood. With the use of his imagination and skills, the possibilities are endless. Check back often to see what new wooden marvels he has come up with.
Tom was born in Chicago, Illinois and now lives in Saint Petersburg, Florida. His disability is profound hearing loss and Asperger’s Syndrome. Yet as hard as life has been for him, Tom always manages to keep a great sense of humor and understanding about life.
Tiffany has blossomed as she found a passion and a true talent for crafting jewelry, miniatures from clay, paper greeting cards and beautiful mixed media art. Mixed media art is the use of different textures, materials, inks and paints to create interesting and unique artistic pieces. Her eye for detail astounds those that see her work. Until now, Tiffany had no real outlet to show others her talent, and if she were able to sell these art pieces in a traditional sense, she would risk losing what little bit of income she relies upon.View Artwork