Marketing’s Sandra Fouty takes the reins on this post.
If you’ve ever wondered, “Does art REALLY make a difference?” I invite you to attend a meet and greet with local artist Frank Louis Allen. You’ll come away from the experience knowing that art CAN make a difference and has in this gentleman’s life.
Frank admits his first relationship wasn’t until age 26, and he has had difficulty maintaining relationships. He is autistic, which can inhibit his ability to be social, carry on conversations, secure employment, and interact with others in a way most people would be comfortable. Coupled with this diagnosis, Frank has a degenerative vision problem called retinitis pigmentosa, a chronic hereditary eye disease.
Originally from England, Frank met his wife through a Facebook page that she manages, Artists and Autism. Frank and his future wife collaborated on a project and struck up a friendship. They began talking more frequently and eventually spoke daily. Frank came to the United States to meet her in person, and the two married.
Click on the images to zoom and for caption info. All photos courtesy Jennifer Ford Art, a local gallery that features Frank’s art.
Yesterday, Frank came to campus to promote and speak about his art. He captivated the audience with his friendly, open demeanor and insights about the process in which he creates. He spoke of how creating art has opened up a world to him where he is more confident, allowing him to connect better with others and build meaningful relationships. While speaking, he grabbed a large Sharpie marker and started making broad strokes on a white sheet of paper. He continued to talk, answer questions, and draw.
After he shared some of his art–both realistic and abstract–and when the audience ran out of questions, he invited people to sit with him a draw. Jaclyn Garver, who works in marketing with me, and I sat with him for about 15 minutes, shared a piece of paper and created this drawing.
Every few minutes, he would turn the page, which forced us to work on new parts of the drawing. He encouraged us to make lines on the page and add details where the lines intersected. When he noticed Jaclyn was staying in her little corner of the drawing, he would turn the page and encourage her to branch out toward other parts of the drawing.
Conversation flowed easily for Frank. He was in his comfort zone drawing, sharing and building an unlikely friendship with two Ivy Tech marketing professionals. Art has given Frank confidence, a purpose, an income and, most importantly, his wife. Art does make a difference, and Frank Louis Allen is living proof.