Sam Gant (1954—2000)

In his relatively short and restricted life, Sam Gant achieved international recognition. His richly colored expressionist paintings have attracted collectors of contemporary and “outsider” art in America and Europe. In 1984 Gant enrolled at the National Institute of Art and Disabilities (NIAD) in Richmond, California. He spent most of his life struggling to communicate despite diagnoses of autism and deafness and a resulting inability to verbalize. Since childhood he had built model airplanes but it wasn’t until he joined NIAD that Gant experienced working with art materials. At NIAD, Gant developed strong spatial and structural perceptions. He composed paintings with large areas of color, and included numbers, letters, phone numbers, and eventually his name, words, and phrases. Over time, he was motivated to communicate with his teachers, first by drawing and ultimately by speaking. His beautifully colored paintings of aircraft, race cars, flowers, moons, and stars communicate the artist’s rich inner life. Gant’s career as an artist spanned only sixteen years until his premature death at age forty-five from congestive heart failure.

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