Earlier this year, photographer Marco Catini followed Andrew as he participated at the Summer Games, where he played tennis. Now Marco takes a closer look at his other passions: painting, photography and writing.

Andrew literally welcomed me with open arms when I arrived at his home: He hugged me on the steps, even before I was able to make it up to the porch. After a tour of the house he led me to his studio on the second floor. There he showed me some of his paintings and photographs. Special Olympics medals and accreditations were on plain sight, as well as his book “The Art Beyond A Syndrome”, and a thank you card he had painted for his tennis coach.

Andrew began to work on a painting, and his mom showed me some of his other work: photos and poetry. She explained that photography, being the more social art form, had helped Andrew becoming more comfortable and made him explore more. His poetry, on the other hand, is more introspective and “emotionally much deeper than his verbal communication”. All in all, his mom said that art helped Andrew gain self-esteem.

 

Andrew’s work has been featured not only by a local camera store, but also at renowned exhibitions in the country and even in the United Kingdom!

After a while we set up for some formal photos, but not before Andrew put on his gold medals from Special Olympics. His smile became even bigger and he was visibly delighted. Afterwards, during an impromptu interview with his mom, I learned that art, besides boosting Andrew’s self-esteem, has been enlightening others about dimensions of people with disabilities.

A few months later I met Andrew and his mom at the opening of a Arts Unbound group exhibition in Upper Montclair. To no one’s surprise Andrew greeted me with a hug before I made it inside the venue. He then led me inside and gave a tour, thoroughly explaining the other artists’ pieces while introducing me to everybody in the room.

Between eating some cheese and Hershey Kisses he willingly posed for a photo in front of his exhibit: a photo of clouds reflecting in the World Trade Center. He then discussed possible designs for scarves with his mom and Arts Unbound’s executive director.

I received another hug when I left, and by the time I arrived at home I noticed that Andrew had sent me a text, thanking me for the visit.

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