The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Gray Stanback’s Magna Doodle display connects art, autism

As you walk into the library, your mind is overwhelmed with the various assignments that need to be completed before 2 a.m., and as you leave the building at night, you are exhausted by the thought of waking up tomorrow and going through the same routine.

While walking down the entrance hallway of the library, have you ever had the chance to peer into the glass case that holds various works of art? Before you exit through those automatic doors, take a glance. You will be surprised by what you may find.

In the Hege Library entrance hallway case, a large collection of Magna Doodle art is on display. First-year Gray Stanback is the artist of these masterpieces, which include dinosaurs, sharks, airplanes, planets and much more.

Each drawing comes with a connection to autism. Stanback sometimes finds it challenging to interact with others, and drawing allows him to start conversations with people.

“Working at the library, I pretty much stare at the displays all day,” said senior Jonathan Yatsky. “I was surprised because (the display contained) children’s toys, but they were really good drawings.”

Senior Ryan James also works at Hege Library and took interest in the display.

“I work at the library, so I notice when it’s different,” said James. “It’s an exhibit that’s worth reading the explanation of each drawing.”

Autism is a developmental disorder that affects physical, social and language skills. Many individuals develop a hyper focus in which they become fixated on something they are extremely passionate about.

“Many people don’t see drawing the way that I do,” said Stanback. “Drawing makes my mind less crowded. The more things I draw, the less I have to think about afterwards.”

Stanback started drawing when he was just four years old. His parents found him using up too much paper and wanted him to use something that was reusable. From that day forward, he drew on the Magna Doodle.

“My first thought when I saw the display was someone must have spent a lot of money on Magna Doodles,” said senior Chris Ashcraft. “The fact that there was so many of them, I needed to see what it was.”

These drawings were completed as a graduation requirement for Stanback at North Mecklenburg High School in Huntersville, N.C. His drawings made an impression not only on his parents, but also on the Diversity Action Accessibility Subcommittee, which sponsored the display.

“I think the display is fantastic,” said Disability Resources Coordinator Kim Burke. “It’s easy for students to relate to Magna Doodles because many have grown up using one.”

But this story goes beyond Magna Doodles.

Stanback is not the only student with a developmental disorder. There are 100 students with autism actively enrolled here, and the number has been steadily increasing each year.

“When approaching students with a disability, I ask for mindfulness,” said Burke. “I wish for students to be inviting and move past the disability of the person.

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