Every artist's story hits me in a profound way, but sometimes the heartstrings get pulled in an astounding and unforgettable way.
I recently became aware of an incredible 12-year-old named Nolan Cooley, who was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at age 2, and since age 6 has been creating beautiful works of repetition as his artistic channel.
Unbeknownst to him, he is actually working within a recognized dynamic of postmodernism, alongside renowned artists of repetition, including the blisteringly famous Andy Warhol with his multiple Marilyn Monroes and Campbell's soup cans. The entire style of optical art used repetition to create the illusion of movement, and we see the use of repetition in sculpture, art installations and even movies like "The Hurt Locker" to drive home salient points about contemporary society. While I instantly recognized this on an academic level, I also saw Nolan as a remarkably gifted boy, and as a mom myself, as someone's child.
Nolan's dad, Dom, is the retainer photographer for 9Five Eyewear, through a shared history with owner Mike Metcalf. The two worked together at DC Shoes, and over the years, Metcalf and the 9Five circle have gotten to know the Cooley family, including Nolan and his brothers.
"After spending time at the Cooley house and seeing how consistently he does it and how unique it is," Metcalf said, "we decided to apply it to his other passion, skateboarding, by making a limited edition 9FIVE x Nolan Cooley skateboard deck and selling it, with the proceeds going to an autism-focused cause chosen by the Cooley family."
That cause, the A.skate Foundation, has a mission statement that reads: "A.skate — Autism. Skating with Kids through Acceptance, Therapy, and Education."
The first run of his limited-edition skate deck sold out immediately, whereupon it was decided to make a second run, which also sold out immediately. (I wanted one!) The 9Five store in North Park (they also have locations in Chula Vista, Plaza Bonita and Los Angeles) recently held an art show, where Nolan's works on canvas and skate decks were displayed and sold, bringing in $5,000 in just a few hours. Twenty percent of the sales from Nolan's work goes to A.Skate Foundation, with the remaining 80 percent to the young artist himself.
To see Nolan's story through his dad and mom's eyes, watch the touching 9Five video: facebook.com/9fivers/videos/10153456577961016/
To support the cause of bringing skateboarding to children with autism, go to askate.org and like them on Facebook at facebook.com/askatefoundation.
Laurie Delk is an avid art historian, holding a master's degree in Art History, with concentrations in the Modern and Postmodern movements. She has taught classes at Tulane University, and has been published with several art publications including Sculpture Magazine and New Orleans Art Review. Send ideas for art stories to email@example.com.