Owen Bragg: Artist and Author
I am very pleased to have the opportunity to introduce here Eunice the Unicorn, the remarkable first book of Owen Bragg, a 33-year old man with autism who lives with his mother in Richmond, CA. I encountered Owen's writing and art through his teacher, Janet Lawson, whom I'd met while doing volunteer work in our local schools. Janet is the founder and director of Autistry Studios of Marin, a non-pofit organization that helps teens and adults with Autism, Asperger's Syndrome and other social/communication/learning differences to become successful, independent adults by leveraging its students' existing interests and talents.
As the parent of a 23-year-old with Asperger's Syndrome and I have been involved for some time with parent support and advocacy of kids with autism spectrum disorders in the Bay Area. Public awareness of ASD has increased dramatically since my son's diagnosis in 2000, but there is still a dearth of programs that are, like Autistry Studios, specifically directed at helping teenagers and young adults with autism.
Owen was the first student at A Better Chance School in Richmond started by California Autism Foundation and spent many hours there with his teacher, walking around the pond and making up stories. For the past two years, he has attended programs at Autistry Studios, where he has worked hard to develop his graphic arts and storytelling skills. According to Janet, Owen initially needed quite a bit of individual direction and at first found it difficult to discuss, edit or revise his work. It took almost a year to develop the relationship of trust that now enables Owen to listen to suggestions and as Janet says, to "try one impossible thing a day!" These efforts culminated in the whimsical, vibrantly-colored illustrations and evocative narrative of Eunice the Unicorn, excerpts from which appear below. Like all good stories, this one is full of metaphors that tell us as much about the author as they do about ourselves. "The world is a large and mysterious place", says Carlos, a small boy who helps Eunice save the world of Farthyland from the Evil Lord Smenchmeister. "Wonderful things are everywhere. You just have to look for them."
Below are selected pages from Eunice the Unicorn.
Eunice the Unicorn is available from Autistry Studios. Proceeds from book sales go to the author and to support Autistry Studios.