Day Seventeen and I am still coming down from my Pollock high from yesterday. Today was a nice contrast. It was nice to do more pen & ink work and work my mind in different way…a more autistic savant way. I designed the schematics for my time machine! A time machine that filters out disasters as it transports your soul to the right place and time. As I drew this piece, I started to believe that it could actually work…oh no, talk about embodying the essence of the artist.
Today I present to you, outsider artist, George Widener!
George Widener (b. February 8, 1962) is a self-taught artist who employs his extraordinary mathematical/calculating capability to create art ranging from complex calendars and numerical palindromes to Rembrandt-like antiquarian landscapes to Asian scrolls. (From wikipedia)
Below is an excerpt from his profile from the Wisconsin Medical Society. Click here to read more.
George was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1962. He showed clear signs of autism as well as giftedness as a child. However a combination of growing up in a poor, multi-racial Appalachian family and the public lack of understanding of autism (in this case high-functioning autism known as Asperger’s Disorder) in the 1960s allowed him to remain undiagnosed until he was into adulthood. As a result, George spent years living hand to mouth, often working ‘day labor’ jobs and staying in homeless shelters. He also spent his time in libraries reading and making his drawings. George has thousands of specific historical trivia and facts in his memory, often strange and even tragic details which he finds obsessively fascinating.
Today George is a working artist whose drawings have been exhibited in various galleries and museums. He demonstrates a wide range of freehand abilities. In 1998, he began combining calendar dates with magic squares to create what he calls a Magic Time Square. He uses these unprecedented squares as an ‘engine’ of sorts to evaluate specific historical events or to create a calendrical ‘portrait’ of an individual. Fascinating, creative connections are thus made possible. George’s magic squares have been recognized as original by world-class magic square experts such as Walter Trump of Germany, and the great John R. Hendricks of Canada. George has simply learned to convert his natural memory
based fascination with calendars, history, dates, statistics, and census numbers into visual art in ways that have not been seen before. For example, he may draw a large city landscape and place ‘lucky’ future dates into it, or perhaps devise a large ‘weekend’ cruise ship.
George is represented by the international Henry Boxer Gallery of London.
George is defined as a type of “Outsider” artist regardless of his innate drawing skills (he holds no degree in Fine Art) due to his dramatic life history and the real life social effects of Asperger’s Disorder. Exhibiting at the Outsider Art Fair, George was noted as a “significant discovery” in one New York Times article. In addition, Outsider Art historian Roger Cardinal wrote in a Summer, 2005 Raw Vision magazine article that George’s works “alert us to the existence of a distinctive mind, as well as to palpable human presence.” George is simply happy to make a new drawing every day and enjoy his numbers.
Read this great article about him and more about his Magic Squares at the guardian.
After researching what little information there was about this amazing savant artist, I was intimidated and confused as
to what exactly I wanted create. In truth, I was overly inspired. “Should I draw a futuristic city? Some sort of blue-print of a ship?” Nothing seemed grab me until I saw his time machine piece! I’ve always talked about building some sort of fake time machine and have been fascinated with time travel my whole life. I’ve written songs about time travel and make jokes about leaving the room to go into my time machine. Anyways, it related to my interests so I went with it. I don’t live with Asperger’s syndrome and I can’t even begin to understand what it feels like but I definitely felt something take over me while sketching out my artwork. My pen seemed to take on a life of it’s own and the schematics started to make sense. “I think I can transport my soul to the year 3000 if I really believe it.” I think I may have vocalized that out loud. I had so much fun with this piece. It was a refreshing change from some of my recent pieces. I’ll definitely be designing some futuristic machines and cities again soon. Thank you George Widener for your talent and sharing it with us today! I present to you my tribute to this wonderful man…see you tomorrow!