Artist Shreds Limitations
by Jennifer Allen, Aspergers101
He is one of the country’s most exciting emerging young artist with state and national accolades. Even more amazing, he’s done it all with a diagnosis that most would consider a disability, but he considers it an ABILITY.
In an often-misunderstood world of autism, Grant Manier (pronounced maun-yay), a special needs advocate and one of the most intriguing and captivating young Eco-impressionists of today, is an amazing example of how a complex disorder can grant some of the most amazing gifts; a combination of a window of imagination and an autistic mind that allows him to create stunning collage masterpieces using thousands of pieces of torn/cut shaped and textured paper from recycled calendars, magazines, posters, puzzles and more. He spends upward to 20 hours a week on his “eco-impressionist” pieces. From an owl made from movie posters to dolphins crafted with applesauce lids. Manier is breaking the mold and changing perceptions, whether an admirer or owner of an Eco-original or print, people love his art, his story, and what he stands for “HOPE”.
Grant Manier has been recognized by the United State Congress, Texas State Senate, Texas Governor, Mayor of Houston, and the Austin Rodeo as Grand Champion in the Eco-Art division, as well as many other honorable and deserved awards. Manier in just a few short years from the age of 15 created a business that started as a home school project, has now established himself as an awarding winning Eco-artist.
Grant currently attends FOCUS Academy Houston a private school for "quirky" kids (ADHD, Aspergers and gifted students). The class structure at Focus allows him to attend classes 3-4 times a week and complete the rest of the coursework at home or on the road, via computer, when he is traveling to art shows or interviews. Focus has been a big factor in Grant's business success while attending high school.
An Early Love for Paper
By the age of 3, Manier showed an extreme fascination and passion for paper; writing, coloring, drawing and tearing. However, in the same breath, he was also exhibiting signs of extreme anxiety, social challenges, and obsessions (lining up toys, repetitive T.V. talk). By the age of 5, he was diagnosed with autism. He attended a private school for kids with autism until the age of 9.
Attending public school, struggling academically, and being bullied (Grade 3-5), Manier’s anxieties overwhelmed him and his ability to focus on tasks were disappearing, even his love for art. Realizing that mainstream schooling was not working for Grant, his mother decided that homeschooling was the next best option. Once at home she encouraged his strengths and insisted that he rediscover his love of art by adding it into the homeschool curriculum. Manier started to incorporate paper art as a coping technique for his anxieties.
At the age of 14, Manier created his first eco-art masterpiece “The SUN GOD” shaped using over 4000 pieces of cut and torn recycled magazines, calendars, and craft paper onto canvas. The art piece at first glance appears to be a painting, but it is not. His mother was naïve to the art world, but knew a little something about business. After meeting with art appraisers and telling them Grant’s story she soon learned that what she would have otherwise sold for $100, is now insured for $7500.
Shredding with a Purpose
Manier is not your typical artist. He took a compulsive habit, ripping paper, and turned it into something magical. Collaging was an “OLD” but now “NEW” art movement thanks to eco-friendly times and Eco-artists, like Grant Manier.
He sees a medium that can be brought to life through hours of work, intense focus abilities, and remarkable patience. He follows the same method for every art piece: a brush, recycle materials, tear, cut, glue, shade, glaze and repeat. The paper is expertly applied to canvas by the hands of a genius. “I never know how each one will turn out. I just keep going and see what happens, “stay-in-action” is just one of my mottos,” Grant says.
He finds inspiration and ideas from nature, animals, academic subjects, friends, traveling, World Wide Web and his greatest inspiration is his mother. He has coined his art “COOLAGES” because he says he uses cool colors, cools shapes, cool textures. His art has brought him peace and purpose. “Art is my meditation,” he explains, “When my anxieties get the best of me and I need to look for peace, all I have to do is come back to my art and I feel connected to something bigger.”
Manier has a garage full of puzzles and it’s no coincidence that the puzzle piece is the symbol for autism. Recycled puzzles happen to be one of Grant’s greatest signatures marks. Grant not only recycles puzzles for his art, once he receives the box he proceeds to peel the print off of each puzzle piece, “I need the puzzle to be paper thin so I can apply it to the canvas easily, that’s why I need to peel the print off each piece,” Grant says. Manier is the only known puzzle artist to apply this painstaking puzzle process to his art. Although he teaches children and adults to recycle puzzle and create art, it takes a tremendous amount of patience and time to create the masterpieces that Manier does effortlessly.
Manier travels, makes appearances, and raises money for schools, galas, conferences, and other great causes. Exhibiting and teaching the importance of recycling and protecting our planet. With his beautiful and breath taking Eco-Art masterpieces, Manier captures the attention of everyone around him and has created a following for his art. He has worked alongside with Dr. Temple Grandin, most well-known person with autism (HBO movie, Time Magazine “100 most influential people in the world).
Grant Manier, to some stands for “Hope” and for others a “New Era”. As an Eco-artist he’s protecting and teaching others to save the earth. As a person living with autism, he has become a voice for those you cannot hear by leading the way with his remarkable special talent and teaching the world, “It’s not what we can’t do…..It’s what we can do that makes the difference.”
I am honored to help spread the message of the incredible achievements many have accomplished while living with autism. April is Autism Awareness Month, but every month is a challenge for us. We are grateful to organizations that spend endless hours and money, all year long, developing educational resources and events in order to help others understand our challenges, by giving them a glimpse into our lives and bringing greater thought and sensitivity toward our everyday challenges.
We are thankful to our families, siblings, teachers, boyfriend/girlfriend, spouses and educators who "go the extra mile" to assist us in obtaining goals we have set out to achieve since we were diagnosed. Autism has it's "ups and down" and it annoys some people, but we are happy because we are “not-left-behind” and people love us and guide us, that is all we need. I am grateful to everyone who has helped me raise the awareness all over the world.