Meet the 14-year-old Toronto artist with autism leaving his mark on Canada's art community
Niam Jain is the youngest recipient of the ANOKHI Awards
A 14-year-old Toronto boy with autism has crafted a name for himself in the art world despite only picking up a paintbrush two years ago.
Niam Jain became the youngest recipient of the ANOKHI Awards on Tuesday night. The gala event held in Liberty Village recognizes the achievements of dozens of people from the South Asian community.
"I'm really, really excited. It's a beautiful moment for Niam," said Jain's mother, Nina.
"Really, the award is showcasing and highlighting Niam's potential and what he's accomplished and, really not highlighting the fact that he has autism, but really looking at him as an individual."
In the summer of 2015, she first brought her son some art supplies to give him something to do. She never thought it would lead to a passion and a burgeoning career.
Jain was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at the age of two. He has minimal speech and comprehension skills and uses technology to communicate. But give him a brush and some paint and he communicates with ease.
The colourful layers of his abstract and expressionist paintings started attracting attention from Canadian art collectors, such as Calgary gallery owner Andrew Cumming and Toronto's KontemporaryArt director Marco Rosada, last year.
Since then, Jain's mother estimates he has sold more than 50 paintings worldwide and earned some $50,000.
"He's having sold-out shows and he's not able to produce the artwork as fast as the demand is," she said.
"He's independent now financially, he's created a business, he's paying tax, he's a contributing member of society, and as a parent that's more than you could ask," she said.
He has a reason to get up in the morning and he has a passion ... Many people don't even find that, and he has found it."
With files from Talia Ricci