The creative process of art-making is said to improve and enhance the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of individuals of all ages. For individuals with autism, artistic self-expression can help improve motor functions, manage behavior, reduce stress, as well as increase self-esteem and self-awareness.
Grant Maniér, a 23 year-old Eco-Artist on the autism spectrum, found tearing paper to be a way to ease his anxieties. Eco-Art is when you take recycled materials such as magazines, wallpaper, puzzle pieces, etc. and create ecological art with a purpose. “All my materials, I find them everywhere. People even hand us some of their recyclable materials that they don’t want to use anymore, like magazines or puzzles,” Maniér told ABC13.
Maniér began creating art as young as three or four years-old as an outlet of expression. “Because I have autism, I get anxieties. Working on my art, working with paper, it helps soothe those anxieties. It’s like a form of meditation,” said Maniér.
When he was fifteen years-old, Maniér won Grand Champion Awards two years in a row in the Austin Rodeo’s Eco-Art competition. After getting his name out there as an artist, teachers began to ask if Maniér could teach their students how to recycle and create Eco-Art. Since then, Maniér has traveled across Texas, visiting schools and teaching children how to do exactly what he does!
“He enjoys it because he knows it’s therapy and he’s going to teach a form of therapy that he knows a lot of our kids need,” said Grant’s mother, Julie Coy-Maniér.
Maniér’s passion extends far beyond simply creating art – he hopes to inspire others, as well as create positive change in the community. From his artworks proceeds, Maniér has used more than $250,000 to benefit special needs summer camps, scholarships and tuitions for students, therapy classes, among a variety of other charitable causes for those with special needs.
If that was not enough to make your jaw-drop, his efforts and unique talents have earned Maniér the Houston Mayor’s Student Volunteer Award, as well as recognition from the Texas Senate. One of his pieces was picked to be hung in the U.S. Capitol for a year, and another was bought by Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick.
So what is Maniér up to now? He is working on a children’s book series, illustrated by himself and written by his mother. Their first book, Grant the Jigsaw Giraffe: Different is More, has sold over 14,000 copies. The series seeks to inspire children with special needs and help them recognize their unique talents potential. The book has been honored and recognized by the Barbara Bush Literacy Foundation and the Texas Governor’s Committee for Disabilities.
“It’s not what you can’t do, it’s what you can do that makes a difference,” said Grant. We love this philosophy, and are so excited to continue to see the impact Grant makes!
To view Grant’s online art gallery, visit this page.