JOHNSON SIMON

 

Johnson Simon, the Overachieving “Throw Away Kid”, was born with severe Cerebral Palsy. He couldn't walk until he was 5 years old. He was born in the Turks and Caicos Islands then moved to Haiti to live with his grandparents while his parents went to the US to try to make a better life for their family. Haiti would not admit him into their schools, so he joined his parents in Florida. He was considered mentally retarded due his disabilities and was put into classes with others who were in that same category. He was never given the chance for an education like the “normal” kids, he was just thrown away.

He was lucky to have Michael as his mentor, father figure, and best friend who discovered that Johnson had the unique capability of being able to paint, even though his hands were deformed. This discovery led to Johnson going to the Alexander Dreyfoos School of the Arts in West Palm Beach, Fl, in his senior year in High School being the only person ever admitted to the school in their senior year. That same year Michael passed away; Michael's mother took over as the advocate for Johnson. After learning that he had a 70 IQ from his school records because he was never given extra time to take a test or an aid to help him write, she insisted that he graduate and not be held back for 2 more years, as the school proposed. She hired a tutor to improve his ACT scores and then a year later he was accepted into Western Michigan University in the Frostic School of Art. With lots of hard work and perseverance Johnson graduated with Honors. He was then accepted into IUPUI in the Herron School of Art for his Masters in Fine Art Degree, which he will be getting in May 2018.

Johnson is a remarkable person who cares about others and wants to help other children succeed as he did.

 ************  

"I have always been interested in body movement and when an opportunity was presented to me to attend a dance recital exhibition two years ago on the Western Michigan University campus, I was excited to attend.  Viewing the dancers and their freedom of movement inspired me to display movement in my painting.  I was stimulated to create my first dance focused expressionistic painting.  Dancing is to me, the art of moving lightly and quickly with the skill of communicating my emotion.  As someone with a disability, movement impacts me on a daily basis.   In order to help gain more knowledge of motion and movement, I used several sources of movement for research and to enhance ideas. I watch several videos of dancing to help in determining the type of movement I wanted to present in my painting.  I studied the movement of people: walking, running, swimming, and sky diving.  I then had my own walking and stepping up and down stairways videotaped. I discovered that my walking has a rhythm to it.  To further enhance my study of movement I attended several dancing classes to sketch the dancer’s movements for effect.  My painting is a representation of me dancing.  I am able to make broad and sweeping motions with my paint brush and transfer that motion and feeling of movement onto the canvas to express myself.  In my artistic work, I am able to move freely about without limitations.  I use bright colors to represent the body movement throughout the surface.  

My artwork is a way for me to express or transfer how I would move freely and uninterrupted.  I can run, walk, jump, and I can dance without being bound to limitations when I paint and draw.  I believe the paint brush is an extension of me and represents my idea of movement on canvas."

                                                                                  - Johnson Simon