Autistic eco-artist, in Fond du Lac, thriving while battling cancer

A man in Fond du Lac uses items like jigsaw pieces and movie posters to create works of art.
Updated: Mar. 25, 2022 at 6:13 PM CDT
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FOND DU LAC, Wis. (WBAY) - An autistic artist, living in Fond du Lac, recently diagnosed with cancer, is thriving thanks to his extended family at SSM Health. The team helping to nurture the young man in more ways than one.

Twenty-six year old Grant Manier, also known as Jigsaw Grant, is an eco-artist. Manier, who has autism, uses everything from movie posters and magazines to empty tissue boxes and puzzle pieces to create his art. He’s won awards, been commissioned by major companies to produce pieces, and along with his mom, they’ve created a series of children’s books.

According to Manier, “I have a lot of anxiety, but when I’m working on my art, all those anxieties seem to just go away. It’s like a form of meditation. I feel calm, I feel relaxed.”

Manier and his mom only recently moved to Fond du Lac, from Texas, because of the SSM Health, Treffert Center and the future Treffert Studios. The facilities work to harvest talents and strengths out of people-- like Grant-- to help them become employable and more independent.

“In Grant’s case it’s his art and his acting and voice over talents and I’m just trying to help him find that. Well, the Treffert Center opened that door, double doors, double doors opened for that opportunity. And I feel, I honestly feel I’ll be fine, he’ll be fine if one day I’m not around,” says Manier’s mom, Julie Coy.

Manier’s move to Fond du Lac proved to be nearly life-saving, as earlier this year, he was diagnosed -- by SSM Health doctors -- with stage 2 Hodgkin lymphoma. He’s currently seeking treatment through SSM Health. But, it’s the Treffert Center team and doctors like Jeremy Chapman, who shaved his head in solidarity with Manier, who was losing his hair because of cancer treatments, that’s helping him along his journey. Dr. Chapman adds, “Hopefully it kind of disarms the whole process for him and we got to have fun and buzz buzz, we didn’t really know what we were doing.”

That camaraderie is making a difference, “They just gave me so much love and support throughout this whole thing because we didn’t have any family coming up here to Wisconsin, these guys, such amazing people so love, so much support,” says Manier.

April is Autism Awareness/Acceptance month. And Manier will have his artwork on display, all month, at Gallery Frame Shop, 94 S. Main Street. For more information on Grant Manier’s work, visit his website.

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