A simple stone path cuts through a lush garden of deep green shrubbery, warm red and orange flowers, and sprinkles of pink, white, and purple blooms. College of Staten Island (CSI) student Joseph DeCandido’s “My Eden Garden” gently catches the eye from its new home in the lobby of the U.S. District Court House in Downtown Brooklyn. The painting is one of DeCandido’s 15 original works in the show entitled See My Voice.
DeCandido is a student with autism who attends The Melissa Riggio Higher Education Program at CSI. An opening reception in July celebrating the exhibit drew more than 100 judges, court employees, friends, and family members.
The 22-year-old artist and Michael J. Petrides High School graduate hopes to be a famous artist one day. He is grateful to his mentors from the Melissa Riggio Program, as well as professors Tracy Jones and Pamela Brown “for believing in my talent and recommending me for the CSI Art Gallery.”
The Melissa Riggio Program is a part of the portfolio of Continuing Education and Professional Development. Executive Director Chris Cruz Cullari is proud of the young artist as well as the Program and its dedicated staff.
“This Program continues to be successful, and this success can be seen in the tremendous work of its students. Joseph is to be commended for his hard work, and the Program staff members are to be commended for their dedication to students,” lauded Cruz Cullari.
A Prince’s Bay resident and native Staten Islander, DeCandido was diagnosed with autism at the age of three and has used his artwork as a communication outlet since he was young. He learned to hone his craft by watching the late Bob Ross on television.
In kindergarten, DeCandido won an honorable mention in the Colgate Bright Smiles, Bright Futures contest, and his work was displayed at the Staten Island Children’s Museum during its annual art show from 2012 to 2015. In 2013 and 2014, he hosted his first two solo shows, New York City Sights and Neighborhoods and Lighthouse Mania, at the Pepperjack Grill restaurant in Castleton Corners.
See My Voice runs through October 7 in the Charles P. Sifton Gallery space in the Court House, 225 Cadman Plaza East on the first floor. It is open to the public on weekdays from 8:30am to 5:00pm.