"Exploring Nirvana. . .is an important and comprehensive chronicle that elegantly enlightens us about the life and work of an extraordinary woman and important contemporary artist. Jessica's visionary paintings inspire, astound and illuminate our understanding of the complexity of the human mind, creativity and autism."
—Pamala Rogers, Ed.D., NCPsyA,LP
Director of The Shield Institute Pure Vision Arts studio
Exploring Nirvana: The Art of Jessica Park (MCLA 2008) celebrates the creative expression of an extraordinary artist and person. This is a visual account of Jessica Park's lifelong struggle to overcome the pervasive developmental disorder of autism. The strength and determination of that courageous effort are present in her paintings with every line and carefully placed color combination. The range of Jessica's unusual imagination is contained within the power of her forms and brilliant sense of composition. Told in various accounts by art and autism professionals, as well a MCLA students who have come to know Jessica and her art in a special way, Exploring Nirvana reaches across the mainstream to delight and inform.
With 86 pictures in full color Exploring Nirvana is the first major collection and explication of the work of Jessica Park, an artist with autism who lives and works in Williamstown, Massachusetts. A Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts book project, this 96 page volume features essays and commentary by students and faculty, including guest authors Clara Claiborne Park and Emmanuelle Delmas-Glass. Dr. Oliver Sacks has written the Foreword to this very unique and revealing study of Jessica’s art. Under the guidance of Professor Tony Gengarelly, Exploring Nirvana incorporates the work of many classes and a full generation of students from the MCLA Fine and Performing Arts Major. With the cooperation of Jessica, Clara and David Park the many ramifications of Jessica Park’s art and life have been researched and experienced first hand. The resulting volume is a testimony to a remarkable person’s ability to overcome the limits of a developmental disorder such as autism and indeed use aspects of it to good advantage in creating the remarkable images that mark Jessica Park’s particular Nirvana, a world we can all share in this very special edition.
"Exploring Nirvana is wonderful. . . .What a great teaching plan Professor Gengarelly developed - the students must have learned so much from the whole process - and not only about the art."
—Ann Oppenhimer, President,
Folk Art Society of America
"Exploring Nirvana is a welcome addition to the literature on artists with disabilities. Teachers, students, mental health professionals, museum professionals, collectors, and art lovers of all varieties should find a place on their shelves for this very rich book."
—Dr. Cheryl Rivers,
Folk Art Institute, American Folk Art Museum, New York, NY
"Exploring Nirvana: The Art of Jessica Park is an important contribution to the understanding of the function of artmaking for artists with autism such as Jessica Park, of this still little understood pervasive developmental disorder, and of what it means to be human within an all inclusive definition."
—Gillian J. Furniss, Ed.D.,
Adjunct Professor, Adelphi University
"This is a book that will appeal to many readers. . . .Exploring Nirvana combines beautiful illustrations with descriptions of the paintings of Jessica Park. . . .provides insight into the world of autism. . . .a student project with professional results."
—Dr. June Groden, Director,
The Groden Center, Providence, RI
"Exploring Nirvana: The Art of Jessica Park is a gift not only a gift to the 1.5 million families affected by autism, but to the entire world. . . . Exploring Nirvana should appeal not only to individuals interested in or affected by autism, but to anyone with an interest in visual art and the process of artistic creation."
—Ann Telfer, President,
Ann Arbor Autism Foundation