Bradley’s small watercolor paintings reference caves, precious stones and magical clouds. The artist layers thin washes that are driven by a personal logic. There is an order in which colors are added and there is always a definite stopping point. Bradley’s structured process, provides a beautiful juxtaposition to the ethereal nature of his chosen medium.
Bradley was born in 1987 in St. Louis, Missouri. He was a precocious child, singing his a,b c’s, speaking in sentences and doing puzzles at 18 months. Then, at 22 months, the ‘wheels fell off the bus’ and he started losing all his language and social interactions. We thought he had lost his hearing as he had suffered chronic ear infections as an infant. After many tests and scans, the diagnosis of Autism was finally made many months later. It was a confusing time. The current treatments were not widely known and the regression he exhibited, now a common subset of Autism, confused many physicians.
We were fortunate to live in a community that was very accepting and Bradley was included at school and in early social groups. He, of course, needed support and guidance to learn. Through the patience and persistence of many working with him, he has learned to read and communicate at a basic level and loves being with groups of people. Others seem to respond positively to him as well as he is totally non-judgmental and readily greets all with a smile.
We moved to California in 2002. After finishing High School here, he started attending Hope three days a week. The other two days, he worked as part of a group at the Yard House. Hope Center for the Arts has been a wonderful gift to Bradley. He rides the ACCESS bus to and from Hope giving him a feeling of independence. He readily tells us the names of friends and teachers at Hope. Although not at the savant level of skills, he began doing some painting when away at a summer camp and has been able to continue to develop his use of color under the direction of the Hope instructors. The instructors at Hope also encouraged an artistic collaboration with one of his friends at Hope that resulted in the creation of a few paintings together. One of them hangs in his room in our home and another in his room at Glennwood, where he now lives. He seems proud of his work. Recently, ceramics was added to the Hope offerings and he has begun experimenting with clay. This is particularly exciting since many with Autism have sensory issues that preclude working with clay. In expanding his sensory experience, he also participates in Horticulture which involves planting seeds in dirt. The instructors at Hope have been exceptional in encouraging him out his comfortable routine to try new things.
Hope has also opened his life to music; both as a vehicle for interacting with others during music therapy and as a skill. He has been learning to play the drums and proudly tells us about it. Everyday presents new opportunities for growth.
At Hope Center for the Arts, he knows he is valued, loved and surrounded by friends. Who could ask for more.