Connecticut College Magazine · Winter 2008-2009


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Using art to benefit autism research

Using art to benefit autism research
Jacob Intner, 7, was diagnosed with autism three years ago.

Claudine Johnson Intner ´94

by Rachel Harrington

Claudine Johnson Intner ´94 and her husband, Scott Intner ´93, knew early on that their son Jacob, was struggling more than other children. Then three years ago, he was diagnosed with autism. “It was devastating,” Claudine says.

As she and Scott worked to find the best programs and schools for Jacob, now 7, they realized they wanted to do more to defeat autism and help other families in similar situations.

In 2007, Intner started Art Now for Autism, an online exhibition and sale to benefit autism awareness. All of the profits go toward Autism Speaks, a national autism awareness and research organization.

Intner, an artist, came up with the idea in 2006 when she and Scott signed up for Walk Now for Autism in Washington, D.C. Art Now for Autism features Intner´s own collages as well as the work of her artist friends. Last year 26 artists donated more than 40 works of art. This year 100 artists gave about 400 pieces.

“Autism can be very frustrating. Sometimes it feels like we aren´t getting anywhere,” she says. “This enables me to be a part of the solution.”

At Connecticut College, Intner majored in art and history worked at the College´s Office of Development. She also studied with Maureen McCabe, the Joanne Toor Cummings ´50 Professor of Art, who continues to have a “tremendous impact” on her.

“I appreciate even more now how meticulous she is,” she says. “I can be a little messy when I work and I try to reach for a level that Professor McCabe would appreciate.”
Today Intner specializes in collages, but she has also been trying her hand at quilts and fiber art over the last year.

“In some ways it is very similar to collage, but instead of glue, I use stitches,” she says. “It´s nice not to have to worry about gluey fingers for a change.”
Jacob, now in the first grade, has made progress. Intner considers his brothers, Connor and Noah, to be his “best therapists,” particularly when Jacob has problems understanding conversations and verbal directions.

“They are persistent and don´t give up if Jacob doesn´t respond to them,” she says. “Jacob has come a long way, and we look forward to the future.”

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