The Malissa Perry Project

Sunrise in Your Smile by Christen Mattix
Wow! by Christen Mattix
A heartfelt collaboration between Malissa Perry, a woman with Down Syndrome and autism, and her caregiver, artist Christen Mattix.  

The Malissa Perry Project pairs Malissa’s jewel-like abstractions with Christen’s bold portraits of Malissa. A work of art as social practice, the project brought together adults with intellectual disabilities, caregivers, and the community in radical celebration. Overturning stereotypical ideas of ability and disability, artist and model, the exhibit reveals a democratic approach to art practice.

Christen’s intimate and confrontational portraits translate Malissa's body language into paint, finding beauty in Malissa’s unconventional appearance. Vibrant colors charge the work with emotional intensity, evoking Malissa's radiant spirit.

Malissa Perry is a nonverbal painter whose paintings give expression to a rich, enigmatic inner life. She creates dense, atmospheric layers of marker, glitter and paint that suggest nebulae, tidal pools, or glittering geodes. The surfaces of her paintings incorporate found objects like shoelaces, beads and balloons culled from her daily life. Her ability to paint was discovered when beloved staff person, Nancy Daugherty, gifted her with a blank canvas and encouraged her to start painting. Many of the titles for the paintings were created in a collaborative process by Malissa's support staff.

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3 Acorns by Malissa Perry

Malissa and Phoebe by Christen Mattix

Lacing Card by Christen Mattix

Maria by Christen Mattix

Real Presence by Christen Mattix

Red and Black Shirt by Christen Mattix

The White Painting by Christen Mattix

Pink Striped Shirt by Christen Mattix

Nebula by Malissa Perry

Pearls by Malissa Perry

Golden by Malissa Perry

Heat Wave by Malissa Perry

Manifestation by Malissa Perry

Mystery and Magic by Malissa Perry

Untitled by Malissa Perry