Kambel Smith’s Artwork, Family, and Being an Autisarian (Autism)
From discarded cardboard boxes come sculptures that awe and inspire. . .
So begins our introduction to The Awesome and Absolutely True Adventures of the Autisarians of Philadelphia, a film portrait of the extraordinary Smith family that includes brothers Kambel and Kantai and their remarkable father, Lonnie.
Kambel Smith is a self-taught artist with autism whose large and intricate cardboard sculptures of architecturally significant American buildings have brought him fame and attention in the contemporary art world. With no formal training in art or architecture, Kambel Smith uses his natural ability to gauge perspective and scale without measuring tools. His brother, Kantai smith, who also lives with autism, is a talented computer coder who creates high energy and colorful video games. Lonnie Smith, their father, is the gentle guide who helped his sons discover their superhuman abilities.
The Smith family of Philadelphia rejects the limitations of the term autism, and instead create “The Autisarians,” people with superhuman abilities.
Since our film premiered over two years ago, the family is doing well. Kambel Smith has had two solo shows (in Philadelphia and Milwaukee) and was awarded a prestigious Pew Fellowship in the Arts. He is also embarking on a project that marries heart and vision. In honor of his grandparents, who both passed away from cancer last year, Kambel Smith has partnered with the American Cancer Society and Jefferson University on a project he calls “Cancer Recycled.” The project donates cardboard sculptures of cancer research facilities to that specific facility. The plan is to do all seventy-one facilities in the ACS network.
Never give up. Autism isn’t a disorder, you know, isn’t not a disability. The only disability that you have is believing you have one. Once you get past the point of believing you have a disability, you can do anything. And that’s not just for autism. It’s for anyone. – LONNIE SMITH
We hope you enjoy this story of love, art, achievement, and family.