Emma’s flat use of paint has a connection to pop art—in particular, Andy Warhol and Takashi Murakami. She draws her inspiration from pop culture; predominantly Disney characters and Japanese anime. Emma uses appropriation as a vehicle to create her own logic and populate the landscapes in which her figures live.
Emma is a bright, beautiful and loving young lady. She joined HOPE Center for the Arts in 2015. She had a difficult beginning, so to see her now, you would say she is a miracle. Emma was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in 1996; prior to her diagnosis she was in Regional Center’s early intervention program. As a baby she had numerous sensory difficulties; light, sound, transitioning from day to day activities caused her stress, crying, and had her retreating from the world. She started a speech and development school at age one. Emma was a little girl with limited means of communication, so her behaviors were those of fear, combativeness and self-injury. At age four, the world began to change for us. She started working with the Picture Exchange Communication system. With training and the diligence of all those who loved and cared for her, she began to speak. When Emma turned 5, she began using words, her picture exchange cards and hand gestures to get her points across. By that time, she had grown leaps and bounds and was at a two and half year old’s level of communication. At age eleven, Emma had grown tremendously, she was at a six-year old level of communication, her combative behaviors faded away, and there was no stopping her thirst for knowledge.
Emma has always loved art, history and being creative. From her grade school years though high school we encouraged Emma’s love of art at home. She had some exposure to the fine arts in school, but it was never enough. She would study “how-to books” and draw characters in her room. She was fascinated by different cultures and researched them on her own. Emma loved music, and we bought her instruments to play with despite never having formal training. As a family, we did all we could to encourage her creativity and love of history.
Upon Emma’s graduation from her adult transition high school, we started to look for a day program option. We saw HOPE early on in our search and always kept it in mind. We decided to try out HOPE, and were thrilled beyond belief when she was accepted. It was the beginning of a whole new world for her and we are so blessed to have discovered it.
In addition to Autism Spectrum Disorder, Emma has Anxiety Disorder. Beginning a new school and meeting new friends was overwhelming for her at first. The staff, educators, and therapists were always attentive to her needs and made the transition to HOPE a great experience for her. Shy and reluctant at first, Emma has become a member of a extraordinary community of artists and musicians. She has access to a large range of classes that we would never be able provide for her privately. She draws, paints, and works with textiles now. She sings aloud, and participates in group projects, and is in music classes. Her favorites classes are poetry, art, horticulture, ensemble and sewing. The classes rotate so she is always learning new skills. Another benefit of being a member of HOPE Center for the Arts are the friends she has made. Emma says, ” There are all kinds of different characters and personalities, and they are the ones that accepted me first. I was really shy and nervous at first, and I was very overwhelmed with all the people around me. Each and every class I was introduced to everyone. They were so interested in me and accepted me, so I slowly broke out of my shell. I am very happy at HOPE and I wouldn’t trade it for any other school or program for the world.”
– Christina Phillips, Parent of Emma Phillips, HOPE