An Unexpected Life: A Mother and Son's Story of Love, Determination, Autism, and Art
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An Unexpected Life: A Mother and Son's Story of Love, Determination, Autism, and Art

by Debra Chwast, Seth Chwast, Seymour Chwast
     
 

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Diagnosed with severe autism as a toddler, Seth Chwast seemed trapped in his own insular universe. His family endured anguish, sought countless therapies, and almost gave up hope. Then, at age 20, Seth took a painting class, and everything changed. Miraculously, he revealed an innate ability to create amazing artworks that reflect his own unique perspective and gave

Overview

Diagnosed with severe autism as a toddler, Seth Chwast seemed trapped in his own insular universe. His family endured anguish, sought countless therapies, and almost gave up hope. Then, at age 20, Seth took a painting class, and everything changed. Miraculously, he revealed an innate ability to create amazing artworks that reflect his own unique perspective and gave him a voice he had never had.
 Written by Seth's mother, Debra, An Unexpected Life tells the story of their long difficult path, and her determination to help her son. Although Seth cannot safely cross the street alone, he is an icon for anyone who has been in a hopeless situation and then triumphs. More than simply a memoir, this visually breathtaking volume is infused with hope, inspiration, and art.
 

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
After her son Seth was diagnosed with autism at 21-months-old, Chwast was determined to create a good life for him. Until 2003, when 20-year-old Seth took his first painting class at the Cleveland Museum of Art, this life consisted of therapy, special schools, and trips to amusement parks. However, Seth proved to be a gifted artist with an eye for color and a fantastical vision. Mother and son have since traveled to Galapagos and The Cayman Islands (both invited Seth back to exhibit his art), and he's been featured on The Today Show twice. Rather than seeing his autism as an affliction, Chwast writes: "First I tried to bring him into our world. Now I try to go into his." The book's beautiful, fascinating paintings include Manhattan Floating, a whimsical depiction of the city made up of 104 tiles, featuring roller coasters, sea animals, a pegasus, rocket ships, and more. Chwast wants to "give hope to everyone and anyone who is broken and lost," and she does so admirably with this book.
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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781402774034
Publisher:
Sterling
Publication date:
09/06/2011
Pages:
224
Sales rank:
1,068,839
Product dimensions:
7.20(w) x 8.80(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

Debra Chwast received a master's in social work and worked as a therapist for 33 years. When Seth was diagnosed with autism at 21 months, Debra threw herself into an 18-year attempt to bring Seth into our world. After Seth discovered painting, she produced a short documentary on Seth titled A Different Kind of Journey, which was accepted into the Ohio Independent Film Festival in 2004, and shown on WVIZ PBS. Debra is now Seth's manager, travel agent, promoter and-literally-his voice. She speaks to large groups, participates in panels on autism, and provides keynote addresses about her life with Seth. She lives in Cleveland, Ohio.

Seth Chwast's unique works of art reflect his vision of the world. He has exhibited at Penn State College of Medicine, University Hospitals of Case Western Reserve, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, and the United Nations. His love of travel led to exhibitions in Galapagos, the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands, Trinidad and Tobago, and Curaçao. His enormous mural Manhattan Floating decorates the lobby of the Time Equities building in NYC. See www.SethChwastArt.com.

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