South Jersey teen with autism uses art to speak volumes

Matteo Iadonisi Image
Monday, October 3, 2022
South Jersey teen with autism uses art to speak volumes
19-year-old Samantha Foglia scored a solo exhibit featuring her incredible impressionist paintings!

MARLTON, New Jersey (WPVI) -- 19-year-old Samantha Foglia found her voice about five years ago. But it wasn't through singing, dancing, or acting. It was through art.

"She has something called apraxia in addition to autism, where there's like a disconnect between the brain and the body," said her mother, Kris Foglia. "And for such a long time, not being able to hear any of her thoughts and see all the frustration were some really dark days for our family."

Luckily, Samantha discovered two life-changing tools at the same time. A physical letterboard helped her communicate verbally. And a paintbrush helped her communicate emotionally.

"What it was able to do is help Samantha calm her body down, and to be able to focus," said Foglia. "And of course, now she's able to share what's going on in her head."

Foglia's college friend, Amy Heath, has been a part of Samantha's life since she was little. But a few years ago, she realized she could help her even further through her passion for art.

"When we first started painting she didn't even really hold the brush," said Heath. "She kind of opened this little part of her inside where she feels like she can express herself."

Heath now provides art lessons to Samantha once per week. Under her tutelage, Samantha has become quite a distinguished artist with an impressionist style.

In early 2020, the opportunity arose for Samantha's artwork to be featured along with the Eden School at the Arts Council of Princeton. However, the world shut down before they could open their doors.

Jumping ahead two years, Amy Heath reached out again to share some of Samantha's artistic progress. The Arts Council of Princeton was impressed enough to grant her a solo exhibit.

"We are super proud and excited that she has an exhibition running at the Arts Council at Princeton," said Heath, "And we picked out what we felt like were her strongest or most heartfelt pieces."

The gallery is titled, "A Technicolor Lens." Guests can explore Samantha's artwork Monday through Saturday until October 14, 2022.

Not only is Samantha over the moon about the exhibit, but she hopes it will inspire others in similar situations to try making art.

She typed out the following quote to share with us: " It was encouraging to know that I couldn't mess up. Whatever I created was a form of expression. And I found that freeing. I encourage everyone to explore creative ways to express themselves. You just might unlock a brand new side of yourself."

To learn more about A Technicolor Lens, visit the Arts Council of Princeton's website.

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