A Winnipeg artist is getting recognition from the United Nations. Ryan Smoluk was surprised to learn that a work he painted as a teenager has been selected for the United Nations Stamp Award.
Ryan Smoluk has a form of austism called Asperger syndrome. For him, painting is a way to connect with others. His condition means that means he deals with a kind of culture shock every day. He has difficulty filtering out noise in large crowds, and is not comfortable interacting socially.
"When he was young, he couldn't speak," admits his mother, Marina Smoluk, who has been a great support to him. "So he used to do a lot of paintings."
Yet Smoluk has been able to overcome his challenges communicating. Not only is he a busy artist, he also gives presentations in which he shares personal
and practical ways to help others understand the thought process and
behaviour of autism.
"Sophia" by Ryan Smoluk
His sense of humour and unique take on life make him a popular speaker.
He is being honoured
by the UN for his work as an artist and an advocate, promoting acceptance of people who have
Asperger syndrome and autism.
"I want to give inspiration where I can", says Smoluk. "I want to be able to tell
people that, you know that, at a a time when people do get diagnosed,
they feel like it's a death sentence to them."
"Moment in Time" by Ryan Smoluk
Smoluk was born in Winnipeg and has been expressing himself artistically since he was a child. His work ranges from paintings and sculpture to large city murals, computer graphics and illustrative artwork for comics. His works have been displayed locally and throughout North America.
He is now 34 and is in his fourth year of Fine Arts at the School of Art at the University of Manitoba.
Smoluk will receive the United Nations Stamp Award in New York on April 3rd, where he will also receive a handshake from the UN's Secretary General Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
Ryan Smoluk (CBC)