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Through the Lens of Autism - a Celebration of Creativity and Expression

(SAN DIEGO) The Community Coaching Center (CCC) and Daniella deVarney Photography are proud to present the culmination of a groundbreaking participatory photography experience: Through the Lens of Autism.

CCC is a San Diego based, nonprofit organization dedicated to helping children and teens with autism by providing supportive exposure to the greater San Diego community, and by cultivating social skills and appropriate behaviors so that they can become more active and included members of their communities and the world.  Socially educational, therapeutic, and fun activities take place after-school, on Saturdays and during school breaks, either at home base or out in the community. Individual Program Goals (IPGs) are also specially designed for each program participant.

During an eight week period earlier this summer, deVarney worked closely with the CCC Kids, to explore digital photography as a means of communication and self-expression.

“Because of the communication challenges that are present with the autism diagnosis, many of these kids have little real opportunity to express the way they see life to the rest of the world,” explains CCC's Community Inclusion Coordinator and Project Lead, Debi Spindelman. “Using the right equipment and the right framework, deVarney got some phenomenal work out of them, and some fantastic narratives.”

Over 90 kids had a chance to participate in the photography program. While visiting sites like the San Diego County Fair, Cabrillo National Monument, Coronado Island, and San Diego Harbor, the cameras served as a tool for expression and interaction with new surroundings.

The project was originally conceived by deVarney and Spindelman over a year ago. Spindelman heard of a similar project that deVarney had done with a boy’s orphanage in Port St. Johns, South Africa and approached her with the idea upon her return to the U.S. Soon after, deVarney, whose cousin has Asperger’s Syndrome (a high-functioning autism spectrum disorder), began to volunteer at CCC in order to familiarize herself with the kids.

“This has been a tremendous experience for me as a photographer,” says deVarney, a native of Los Angeles. “These kids inspire me every day, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to share their visions with the rest of the world.”

Both deVarney and Spindelman are eager to share the artistic work of the participants with the public. From the dozens of photographs shot during the summer, 30 will be custom framed and then beautifully displayed on two separate, upcoming evenings of elegance and appreciation. 

A preview event will take place at Jake's on 6th in Hillcrest, on Saturday, November 21, from 2-4 p.m., with the formal gallery event on Saturday, December 5, from 7–10 p.m. at the Mabuno Gallery in Solana Beach.

CCC, like many state-funded organizations, has seen its primary source of support slashed from the state budget. As a result, Through the Lens of Autism serves not only as a celebration of talent and awareness-raising, but also as a benefit for CCC. The monetary goal of the fundraiser is modestly set at $10,000.

To help in this endeavor (and just in time for the holidays), attendees will also enjoy boutique shopping, featuring a selection of limited-edition matted prints, note cards and calendars, available for purchase at both events. As a special item for fervent supporters of youth and the arts, a single-edition coffee table book illustrating the on-the-ground process of this innovative project will be auctioned off. The book looks deeper into the series of narratives created by the photographer teams.

Each photo sold comes with a bio showing the provenance of the piece and the photographer’s insights. Such as the double exposure shot taken by Joshua N at the Cabrillo National Monument, titled “Cabrillo Blend.” Joshua explains that, "The statue looks like a mask. The man in the statue must have been very strong; that's why they made a statue out of him."

Aside from the great photography on display, attendees will also be entertained with live jazz music and have the opportunity to enjoy samples of wine, beer and hors d’ oeuvres from a variety of local restaurants.

Through the Lens of Autism is sponsored by Once Upon a Frame, Provide-Commerce, TRUMER PILS and ONE HOPE.  To learn more about this amazing charity and the upcoming events, visit: http://www.communitycoachingcenter.org