Valley man uses art to raise autism awareness

PHOENIX - A Valley man is using art to change his community.

James has an extremely unique gift. He finds what other people might consider trash and turns it into treasure.

"I just go by what I see. You never know what you are going to get and where you'll find it."

He first started with wine classes, but now he's crafting with wine corks.

"I know I can buy wine corks, but it's not the same, they don't have that hint of wine smell and coloring," said James.

He easily recognizes those hidden gems because he's a hidden gem himself. James has struggled to find a place where he belongs.

James is 32 and has autism.

"There are things I can do and there are things I can't do," he said. "I was looking for work and not finding a job."

He found himself in a tough situation.

"They can't not hire you because of your disability, but they can't hire me because of my disability."

After years of trying to understand his disorder, he's figured out he holds talent in his hands and he would have never made that discovery without Accel , an organization that works with those with autism.

"Without the organization, I would be facing a lot of issues. Issues at home, out in the community. There probably wouldn't be a place for me and I would just be another statistic," James said.

But instead of falling through the cracks, he's taking charge, taking pride in his work and hoping his art will change someone's life the way it's changed his. 

He is using his art to benefit the organization that's helped him find purpose. James' art, along with others, will be auctioned off Thursday April 25 at the Wells Fargo Museum in Downtown Phoenix. 

The silent action starts at 5 p.m.

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