Autistic artist to put on first illustration exhibit

April 13, 2015
Calvin Shin

Calvin Shin

Calvin Shin, a 19-year-old autistic artist, will hold his first exhibition April 24 inside Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.

The exhibit, “Happy World! Through the Eyes of an Autistic Child,” will feature about 70 illustrations, a small handful from the more-than 10,000 drawings produced by Calvin over four years.

Shin, who was diagnosed with autism when he was three and a half years old, is a junior at Saguaro High School.

His father, Sean Shin, said Calvin had no idea what to do with a pencil for the first few months after being given one. The drawings came soon after he understood that it was a writing tool, not something to break.

At first, no one but Calvin knew what he was drawing, Sean Shin said, but he would repeatedly draw the same picture 100 times until the finished product came out to his liking before moving on to the next.

Calvin surprised an art teacher who saw the boy’s drawings and, surprised by his talent, said his art has a quality that makes people happy.

Four years ago, Sean Shin set up an in-home exhibit comprising his son’s work. After selling $800 in artwork, he donated $1,600 to the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center in Phoenix.

He said drawing is a tool that helps his son overcome his condition; his drawings show no sadness or darkness, only happiness.

Calvin’s younger sister, Grace, is headed to Guatemala as a volunteer of Vision Care USA, a program that helps the underserved. Exhibit proceeds will go toward the program, Sean Shin said.

Visit for more information about Calvin’s work.