Twenty-seven year old Martin Thomas is a vibrant self-taught artist whose captivating paintings have taken the creative and art space by storm. At the age of four, he was diagnosed with high functioning autism.
People on the autism spectrum who are high functioning have a hard time with social interaction and communication. They often struggle to naturally read social cues and may find it difficult to make friends. They may get so stressed by a social situation that they shut down and hey don’t make much eye contact or small talk. High functioning people also tend to be devoted to routine and order. They might have repetitive and restrictive habits that seem odd to others.
Despite his diagnosis, he has channelled his unique perspective into stunning works of art that are both powerful and inspiring. Known for his bold and vibrant paintings, Thomas brings his art life by using acrylics and digital art to create his masterpieces.
Thomas’ art has been used to raise awareness about autism, a cause that is close to his heart. His brand, ‘mARTism’ was coined by his brother and is derived from a combination of Thomas’ name, passion, and disability (Martin+Art+Autism = mARTism). The ‘A’ in the logo is represented by the coloured jigsaw ribbon which is the symbol for Autism Awareness. His brother also created a website with the brand which features Thomas’ art and information related to autism.
On April 2, World Autism Awareness Day, Thomas will host an exhibition of his art which seeks to bring awareness to autism. It will be held under the theme, ‘Using his autism to shape his art’ at the Coral Gardens Community Centre in Montego Bay, St James.
His mother and managing director at mARTism, Janice Hall-Thomas, said approximately 20 pieces of original art as well as mARTism merchandise will on display and up for sale.
“It is my hope to have the Montego Bay Autism Centre on site to engage with patrons and educate them about autism as well as the work being done to support people with autism in Jamaica,” she said.
“As much as the exhibition is being held to raise awareness, I also want the proceeds to go towards supporting my son as I will not be around forever. I want his art and passion to support him and encourage him to do more.”
His mother says the artwork he creates often starts out a drawings.
“He does not allow his drawings to leave his space. So what I have done is to transfer his work on to canvas and get it ready for sale distribution,” she said.
Thomas has been creating art since his childhood and after leaving school, he teamed up with Errol ‘Elgo’ Lewis who helped him to develop his skills and artistic technique. With support from Elgo’s art gallery, in 2013, Thomas participated in his first ‘Artwalk Exhibition’ and has since gone on to execute several exhibitions in Jamaica and the United Kingdom (UK).
He is a graduate of the ‘Animate Jamaica’ certificate programme at the University of the West Indies campus in Montego Bay. Additionally, in 2022, Thomas illustrated his first book for Autistic Eye, Carl’s Big Day Out, which showcases his talent and creative flair.
Connect with Martin and his art on Instagram at @mARTismja or at martism.com
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