Time, Light and Sound

Art students from Weber State University incorporate time, light and sound as central elements into their artwork for a special one-night exhibition; next, see how living with autism and making art helps calm one man's anxieties; then meet an ex professional baseball player who became an artist, and finally hear the secret behind master storytelling.

AIRED: October 13, 2018 | 0:26:47


>> BJ Robinson: In this edition

of "KPBS Arts," the calming

effect of art.

>> Grant Maniér: Basically,

this all started because I have

a lot of anxieties

'cause of my autism.

>> BJ: Capturing the essence

of sports.

>> Brent Naughton: My goal is

to celebrate the athletes:

the emotion, the passion.

>> BJ: Finding meaning

in writing.

>> William Souder: It's all

about telling a good story

and trying to hold

the reader's attention.

>> BJ: And building connections.

>> male: One of the cool things

about light is it immediately

draws you in.

We like to think we're more

sophisticated than a bug

but we really almost aren't.

>> BJ: It's all ahead on this

episode of "KPBS Arts."


>> BJ: Hello, I'm BJ Robinson,

and this is "KPBS Arts,"

the KPBS program that focuses

on the arts.

Growing up with autism,

Grant Maniér tore paper

to calm his anxiety.

Now, an adult living in Houston,

Texas, he uses paper scraps

to create artwork that inspires.

Here's his story.

>> Grant: When you think about

it, art is important to


It lets us express our feelings.

For example, if an artist was

angry he'll throw paint

onto the canvas.

If he's calm he'll stroke paint

onto the canvas.

And if they're happy, like me,

they'll tear paper

and put it onto the canvas.

My full name

is Grant Dean Maniér,

and I am known

as the eco-artist.

I take recycled materials like

paper, calendars, magazines,

posters, and puzzle pieces which

are my signature mark, and even

jewelry, beads, and wood,

and I make art out of it;

anything I can use to recycle

and create beautiful

masterpieces with.

Basically, this all started

because I have a lot of

anxieties 'cause of my autism.

Tearing paper and working

with paper was a way to soothe

those anxieties.

>> Julie Coy-Maniér: He was

six years old when I found out

he had high anxiety,

beyond normal anxiety.

It was extreme.

He would perseverate

on TV shows.

He could repeat them over

and over and over for hours,

for days.

>> Grant: I feel relaxed as I

work with paper and I feel

connected to something bigger.

You can't get rid of autism.

It's just something

you work with.

You've just gotta make it

your own.

With my autism,

I am hyper-focused

when it comes to stuff.

Once I start seeing things

in my head, I just start working

with it.

I tried paint at first but I

just didn't have the feeling for

paint like I did when I was

younger so I decided

to try paper instead.

Puzzles are the logo for autism

if you've seen the autism logo,

not to mention the puzzles have

a lot of unique colors on them

and plus a lot of people throw

them away; if they're just

missing one piece, what's

the point of having that puzzle,


I just--I take a canvas

and I sketch what I see

onto that canvas.

Once I have that sketched out,

then I aim to find the materials

that I need.

I need to find the right colors

for certain areas,

and once I have those,

all I need then is glue.

Next I need my paintbrush.

I can stroke the glue onto the

canvas, and then I take a piece

of paper and then place it

right onto the canvas.

And I keep this process up.

A simple piece would take about

a week to make and a complex

piece, it will take over

a month to make.

Oh, that greatest feeling I have

is when I sign it and it's done.

>> Julie: The way I see this

outlet, this process, impact

Grant from the age of 4 to now

the age of 21 has been, I guess,

a mother's dream to watch her

child grow, especially

when they live with autism.

Can they grow?

Can they go through the process?

Can they transition into

an adult?

You know, they say,

"You must be a proud mom."

I don't even know if proud's

the word.

Maybe I'm in awe of what he does

and how he touches people.

It's amazing.

>> Grant: Because of my art, I

get a lot of opportunities to go

to places that I've never been

before, like New York City,

Washington, D.C.,

all the friends I get to make

and the celebrities,

politicians I get to meet

like the mayor, the governor,

and Congress.

There's just so many things

that are enjoyable about

making eco-art.

Because of my eco-art, I had a

lot of doors opened up to me but

what I want to do in the future

is open up a gallery for those

who have special needs, like me.

Even though you can have

a disability like autism,

you could still turn it around

and find the good inside of it

and make it positive.

Whether you're on the spectrum

or not, if you have autism like

me, if you're not, don't worry,

and if you just--if you just

feel different compared to

everyone else, that's fine.

Remember, it's not what we can't

do that makes us different.

It's what we can do that

makes us more.

>> BJ: You can see more

of Grant Maniér's artwork


And now, here's a look at some

of the arts events happening

this week in our community.

>> BJ: When his dreams of

playing professional baseball

ended, Brent Naughton turned

towards a career in art.

Despite the switch,

the Cincinnati, Ohio,

artist discovered a way

to continue his passion

for sports.

Take a look.

>> baseball commentator:

Cincinnati, we bid you welcome

to Reds' baseball.

>> Brent: It sounds odd, but I

think in the 2nd grade I decided

I was gonna be one of two

things: either the centerfield

for the Reds or an artist.

>> commentator: Opened up

for Cincinnati, left-hander

Charlie Leibrandt.

>> Brent: I would draw every day

and I played sports, loved

sports, and when my talent

ran out in high school,

I stayed on with the art.



>> Brent: Eli's Barbecue is

a low-key, relaxed joint.

Everything about it kind of

feels like home and the artwork,

I think my style fits into it.

Whether we have blues,

jazz musicians on the walls,

it's fun to go in there

and sit and eat and hear

what people have to say.

I rotate the walls a couple

of times a year.

We try to play with an opening

day show every year for the Reds

and then if topics come up

throughout the year,

I try to put down some artwork

that may play to that,

where the city kind of feels it.



>> Brent: The main reason I'm

drawn to baseball is being

in Cincinnati, growing up

a Big Red Machine kid

and then moving forward

to the '90 team.

You know, that was one more

great squad that the folks

in Cincinnati just, you know,

it's part of their growing up.

I tried to incorporate a lot of

the emotion, the passion, of the

players, the moments in time,

whether it's an action shot or

something like a portrait

of a young athlete.

I think the detail in my work

is probably--it goes back

to the eyes.

I think in a lot of the artwork,

if you take a look at the eyes,

you can really see something

in there.

There's a spark of a young

player or, you know, somebody

trying to find the ball,

kind of, in an action shot.

>> Brent: My artwork is made up

of layering.

Each piece is a combination

of colored pencil and acrylic

paint, and I layer those two

on top of each other.

I take the pencil sketch and

work just in a dark brown

colored pencil and then I spray

that with workable fixative

and then start the process

of putting on a wash,

an acrylic wash,

over top of the colored pencils

and then just repeat that.

I try to bring out the colors

off of the background and just,

you continue to layer, continue

to layer, until it really pops

off the background.

Some folks think that the

artwork is done on a panel

of wood as well and it's just

started with a white

illustration board.

We do a layer of, like, usually

brown colored pencil and then

I use raw umber acrylic paint

on top of that and I layer up to

maybe seven times until we have

something that we're happy with.

[background chatter]

>> female: Twenty five dollars?

>> Brent: Yeah.

>> female: Do you take him

from--where do you take

your sketches from, just--

>> Brent: A photo.

>> Brent: Most of my work you'll

see is earlier in their career.

I think it's--they're lively

that way.

I wanna instantly be able to see

who that athlete is,

what we're celebrating.

My goal is to celebrate

the athletes

or the historical figure.

My job is to make sure

that people don't forget

a certain athlete.

My best case scenario is

somebody who thinks back to the

time that they were at the ball

game with their dad or, you

know, they were with their

friends and they witnessed

something pretty incredible

and my artwork gives them that

chance to kind of have that

forever hanging on their walls

or in their office,

and if I can do that,

then I guess I've added

some happiness to their day.

>> BJ: To learn more about

this artist's work,

head to

>> BJ: In the world of

journalism, you can find the

works of renowned non-fiction

writer William Souder.

Currently living

in Stillwater, Minnesota,

Souder shares with us his secret

to mastering storytelling.


>> William: There's a secret

that every writer knows.

Storytelling trumps everything.

If you have a good story, a

narrative that has a beginning

and a middle and an end,

and if it also has a strong

protagonist, you're way ahead

of the game.

And so biography is a really

natural structure

for a storyteller.

>> William: Biography is

wonderful because you start with

a main character and you start

with a life that unfolds so it's

all about telling a good story

and trying to hold

the reader's attention.



>> William: I came out of the

University of Minnesota

journalism school in late 1970s.

Worked at a number of different

newspapers and magazines.

So I've written three books.

The first one was called

"A Plague of Frogs."

It was a work of journalism and

that covered the investigation

into these outbreaks of deformed

frogs here in Minnesota and

other parts of North America.

And then my second book was

called, "Under a Wild Sky."

That was a biography

of John James Audubon,

the bird artist.

So I was very fortunate with

the Audubon biography,

that it was named the finals

for the Pulitzer Prize.

And then in 2012 I published

my third book,

"On a Farther Shore,"

a biography of Rachel Carson.

Rachel Carson is really, kind

of, the godmother of the

environmental movement.

I am now at work on book number

four which is a biography

of John Steinbeck.

John Steinbeck is certainly one

of the foremost American authors

of the 20th century and he wrote

"The Grapes of Wrath,"

"Of Mice and Men,"

"East of Eden."

He remains one of the best read

American writers.

So Steinbeck is very early days,

right now.

I'm still reading and digesting

all of Steinbeck and a lot

of books about Steinbeck.

The plan is to spend about two

years researching John Steinbeck

and about a year writing

the book.

But in terms of choosing who

you're gonna write about I think

that the most important thing is

it has to be somebody that

really you feel a connection

with because of your

life experiences,

because of the other work

you've done, they

kind of fit into your frame of

reference in a way that they're

kind of recognizable to you.

You feel like you know

the person.

Writing a biography

is a huge logistical,

organizational challenge.

You just--you're gonna have

thousands and thousands

of documents that you're

gonna be relying on.

>> William: There's a wonderful

biographer named Stacy Schiff

who has written about what it

takes to be a biographer.

She says you need a mild case of

obsessive compulsive disorder

and also a high tolerance for

archival dust because you're

gonna spend a lot of time

in libraries.



>> William: Every subject is

a little bit different.

Every book is a little bit


But in general, when you're

writing biography, you need to

identify what kinds of materials

you can rely on to tell

someone's story.

In many cases, there's a paper

trail that has been left behind

and often there's

correspondence, letters,

diaries, and journals.

And those, for important people,

those tend to be collected

in archival collections

at major libraries.

This extraordinary volume that

we are looking at is one of four

bound volumes that the F&AM

owns of John James Audubon's

"The Birds of America."

He painted all of his birds

at--in exact one-to-one ratio.

They're all life-size.

You know, I think I've probably

looked at now maybe 15 sets

of the "Birds of America."

They're all a little bit


Each one is an original.

When I started working

on Audubon I, of course,

had seen a number of prints

of Audubon's work,

but I didn't really have

an appreciation for the size and

the complexity of the project.

In addition to that,

they're historically

extremely important.

In many cases, Audubon's record

of America from the 1800s is one

of the best visual descriptions

we have of what the frontier was

like and what the animals were

like that lived there.

You cannot look at these

paintings without being moved

by them.


>> William: So if you look

at the books that I've written

and the book that I'm working

on right now there is a common

thread that runs through all of

them and it is this connection

to the environment that we

all share on earth.

What I like about Rachel Carson

and John Steinbeck

and John James Audubon

is that they are real people,

they lived real lives,

and those real lives

are stories.

And they're stories

that are important.

They're an important part of

American history and when I find

a subject that embodies

all of those things then

that's sort of the idea.

That's the sweet spot for me.

>> BJ: You can learn more

about Souder at

And here's a look at other arts

events happening around

San Diego, some right near you.

>> BJ: How do you represent

time, light, and sound?

That's the question art students

at Weber State University had

to figure out.

Using their creative intuition,

students made artwork for

a special one-night festival

in Ogden, Utah.

Check it out.



>> male: Moments exhibit that we

participated in as a class was

really part of a whole festival

called Moments that stretched

four or five blocks of 25th

Street and it was all about

activating spaces with

interesting art to bring people

into potentially new parts of

the city in sort of a way that

had never been done before

in Ogden.

>> male: So everything that went

into the festival was either

light-, sound-, or time-based,

and those elements were chosen

very intentionally, partly in an

attempt to sort of bring people

into these areas and realize

that they are much safer than

they feel and that they're

actually a very welcoming part

of the community.

Introducing light was a way

we were able to do that.

>> male: Additionally, I chose

light because I think it's

an interesting medium to try

to experiment with.

I've never heard of a sculpture

class, especially at a beginning

level focusing on light as

a medium and so I just wanted

to see what happened

when we did that.

One of the cool things

about light is it immediately

draws you in.

We like to think we're more

sophisticated than a bug

but we really almost aren't,


Like, we see light especially

in an art setting

and it really does draw us in.

So it was challenging, I think,

for people to wrap their head

around at first and there

was--we did a lot of prototyping

and experimenting.

I just bought--I had a boxful of

various battery-powered light

things that they got to be able

to play with for the first

couple of days, and then as they

started realizing the positive

and unique qualities of light

as a visual tool, I think they

embraced that really well

and were able to create some

great pieces because of it.


>> male: Well, this piece is

called "Light Cube."

The height is--too,

to look up.

They're looking up at it

with the sound element.

This sort of gives the--

a sense of euphoria,

something peaceful like a,

I guess, celestial figure.

All this semester my project

basically revolved around

a cube, a geometric shape,

so I thought may as well

finish it off with a large one.


>> female: Because we're dealing

with, like, light I decided to

play off of reflective light

and I've always loved, like,

kaleidoscopes and so I wanted to

make something or, like, a disco

ball, something that's reflected

light in a different way.

So it kind of gives the illusion

of, like, a disco ball once

it's up against a wall.

I think it reflects myself

because I've always been very

fun and outgoing and kind

of crazy and all over the place

and a little unpredictable.

>> male: I think art and culture

in general is probably the most

important element that our

cities have right now

and one of the biggest things

that we should be focusing

on as communities.

Artists have to step up

and be active participants

in their communities.

I think that, you know, big ways

that you can be able to do

that is start working with

organizations that are actively

involved in the communities

and see what skill set you have

that you can offer up to them.

But also think of yourself,

you know, as an artist,

you're a storyteller

and you represent your unique

perspective, but you also

represent the perspective

of your community and if you can

learn how to be able to use your

artwork as a form of

storytelling and to communicate

with people, I think that you

have great things to say

and the community's ready

to hear it,

and if you can figure that out,

you will absolutely

bring people together.

I think that's a huge benefit

to our communities.

>> BJ: To learn more about

the Moments Art Festival,

head to

And that wraps it up for this

edition of "KPBS Arts."

For more arts and culture,

visit where

you'll find feature videos,

blogs, and information

on upcoming arts events.

Until next time,

I'm BJ Robinson.

Thanks for watching.




♪ There's a choir

♪ that is singing

♪ There's a song

♪ that must be song

♪ There's a rock

♪ and I'll be clinging until

♪ all my days are done





♪ Buy the thing

♪ that gets you happy

♪ Buy the thing

♪ that gets you high

♪ Pack your worries

♪ in a suitcase

♪ send them off

♪ and wave goodbye

♪ There's a bell

♪ that won't stop ringing

♪ There's a bell

♪ that must be rung

♪ There are words here

♪ so I sing them

♪ until all the music's done ♪

>> male announcer: Support for

this program comes from the KPBS

Explorer Local Content Fund

supporting new ideas

and programs for San Diego.



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