One of our veteran employees has a gift that has inspired people worldwide. His name is Alonzo Clemons and he has Savant Syndrome – “a rare, but spectacular, condition in which persons with various developmental disabilities have astonishing islands of ability or brilliance that stand in stark, markedly incongruous, contrast to the handicap (Treffert, n.d.).”
When Alonzo was three years old he had an accident that left him with a disability that harbored his mental capacity, leaving him with an IQ of 40. It took a while for Alonzo to learn basic things that we all take for granite, like tying your shoes or being able to communicate your needs, but what Alonzo was brilliant at was being able to form a lump of clay into the most amazing masterpieces imaginable. This gift came almost immediately after his accident, and Alonzo has been perfecting his gift ever since.
At first, Alonzo started his sculptures from looking at photography, which gave them a very 2-dimensional look. But when Alonzo’s work really came to life was when he started visiting different animal habitats like the Denver Zoo, the National Western Stock Show, and local farms. His sculptures began to be more realistic and precise.
Such works of art, like Alonzo’s first life-sized sculpture called “Three Frolicking Foals,” can take most skilled artists months to create, but Alonzo created this sculpture in as little as 15 days. He has an amazing photographic memory where he can simply look at what he wants to recreate, and bring his sculpture to life later on without staring at the object or using a photo; in fact, he can even sculpt in the dark. His works of art have sold for as much as $45,000!
What’s Alonzo Up to Now?
Today, Alonzo lives by himself, and stays very active in the Boulder community. He maintains his part-time job here at Tundra – where he’s been working with us for over 15 years – while also working at the YMCA doing ground maintenance. He also visits the local schools to teach children about his gift and just how easy it is to sculpt (easy for him of course). He also enjoys power lifting in the Special Olympics, and has been on numerous television shows, including Discovery Channel’s Brain and Intelligence.
Treffert, Dr. D. (n.d.). About Savant Syndrome. Retrieved March 1, 2013, from: http://alonzoclemons.com/about-savant-syndrome/.