Painting Big Dreams: Kevin Hosseini
By Joanne Lara, MA, and Keri Bowers
Autism Asperger’s Digest March/April 2014
“My goal is to make a living, and hopefully one day, to show my art in Paris.” ~ Kevin Hosseini
Surrounded by dozens of vibrant paintings, depicting impressions of faraway places, landscapes and seascapes, animals, bicycles, and reflective self-portraits, 19-year-old Kevin lights up while sharing his passion for painting. “I started painting when I was nine years old in the fourth grade. My tutor Colin showed me his art. I wanted to be an artist like him.”
Kevin’s “mom-as-manager” Debra Hosseini (www.the-art-of-autism.com) adds “Colin was a clinician sent by the Koegel Autism Center at the University of California at Santa Barbara to work with Kevin. Colin’s early influences show us that role models are important for our kids. Colin helped Kevin advance quickly from watercolors to acrylic to oils.” On his own, Kevin discovered he liked to add natural elements in his paintings, such as sticks and dirt, to give depth and texture to his works.
Currently a freshman at community college, and notwithstanding an impressive resume of accomplishments, Kevin has had a life that was anything but easy. When Kevin was four, he was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. In his early teens, he was also diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder.
With periods of psychotic symptoms including mania, hallucinations, and delusions, Kevin was traumatized daily by voices in his head. For a time, he stopped painting altogether. Devastated by his worsening condition, his family sought to help him through medications, hospitalizations, a recovery home, and other intensive interventions. But it would be years before Kevin’s condition stabilized and improved, and before he began to paint again.
“I paint every week. It feels good and fun to paint; it feels like I am expressing. Mom helps me with my art by putting the name I give my painting next to it. She helps me put prices on it.” He enthusiastically adds, “If I am having a bad day, I paint and feel better.”
While Kevin’s art connects him to things around him, connecting to people is a daily struggle. “I’m thinking college is exciting, but I find communicating hard for me because I need people to ask me questions first. I am working on this.” He tells us that he wants to have friends and go out and be like other kids his age.
We ask Kevin what he sees for himself in the near future. “In two years I see myself as a professional song writer. I’d love Moeen Sayedi Pour, an Iranian singer, or Eric Clapton to sing one of my songs. I write songs.”
Kevin’s paintings have been shown in Canada, China, Italy, Ukraine, and throughout the United States, so his goal of showing his work in Paris is hardly a pipe dream. Learn more about Kevin by visiting Kevin’s Gallery and Kevin’s Facebook Page.
Joanne Lara, MA, founder of Autism Movement Therapy, recipient of two Autism Speaks grants, was the autism expert on the Fox TV show Touch, and is core adjunct faculty at National University in Los Angeles. Lara produced the documentary Generation A: Portraits of Autism & the Arts. For AMT Certification and licensing, visit autismmovementtherapy.org.
Keri Bowers, mother, advocate, speaker, and filmmaker, is co-founder of The Art of Autism (www.the-art-of-autism.com) and owner of Normal Films (www.normalfilms.com). Her films, Normal People Scare Me, The Sandwich Kid, and ARTS, embody possibilities, disabilities, and the arts. Keri is a consultant on the “art” of transitions and skills development.
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