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Artist with autism wins award, receives first solo exhibition

CHERRY HILL, NJ (WPVI) – With little more than a blank canvas, 20-year-old Lance Bannister paints a way forward for other adults like himself with autism.

“Lance has been drawing since he could hold a pen,” said his mother, Amy Bannister. “Long before he spoke.”

This talent was picked up by Joe Smargisso, an art teacher at Haddon Heights High School.

“Having the opportunity to work with a student who creates art just for art’s sake is probably one of the highlights of my career,” Smargisso said.

Bannister is a student in the REACH program at Haddon Heights High School. He was recently awarded third place for his contributions to the Penn Museum YALE Tri-State Disability Art Show. His recent achievements were celebrated by the school, which led to the idea of ​​creating his first solo show.

“We realized that this work really needed to be seen and appreciated by people outside of our school community,” Smargisso said.

Bannister, now an award-winning artist, is proud to exhibit his work at Camden County College’s Rohrer Center in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. By the end of the month, several dozen of his works will adorn the walls with collages, sketches and paintings.

It’s an opportunity Bannister’s mom is excited about and hopes to create more opportunities for adults with disabilities.

“Especially autism, but all disabilities, I mean, services really start to dry up at 18,” she said. “It’s great that we have this opportunity to show that there is life for children over 18.”

To find out more about Lance Bannister and his work, visit his website.

RELATED: Devoted fathers shape employment opportunities for adults with special needs

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Mike Fahey

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