Justin Canha creates emotive charcoal portraits and paintings, as well as computer-generated animations of invented characters. His mark-making is decisive and expressive, infusing his drawings with strong contours and bold gestures. Canha’s drawings and illustrations demonstrate the intensity and perspective of the autistic mind and serve as a powerful form of communication.
Born in 1989, Canha is the youngest artist represented by Ricco/Maresca. He graduated high school in 2009, and then studied at both the Montclair State University and Bloomfield College. He works part-time as a cake decorator, elementary school art teacher, animator and illustrator. His work has appeared in several hip-hop videos, documentary films, and children’s books. Recently, he has been commissioned to illustrate a new line of math teaching books for young children on the autistic spectrum called IBET (Integrated Behavioral Experiential Teaching). Aspects of his autistic and artistic life have been described in two documentaries, Autism: A Different Way of Communicating (2007) and Sidecars (2007).
His work first appeared on the New York art scene in 2005, in the “Autism/Aspergers/Art” exhibition at Ricco/Maresca Gallery, and since then has been exhibited at The Cooper Union, the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), Pace University, and in the exhibition “Timeless: The Art of Drawing,” at the Morris Museum, Morristown, NJ (2008). Justin Canha’s animations received an honorable mention from Jerry Saltz, who juried the Studio Montclair Exhibit, “Taboo,” in New Jersey (2005). In August 2006, Justin’s artwork was featured in Oprah Magazine.
New York Times article by Amy Harmon (September 2011)