Alonzo Clemons is an artist with a remarkable background. His sculptural specialty is the creation of animal figures, full of life and spirit, which are made with amazing speed, great accuracy in form and artistic beauty.
Clemons works in wax and clay, using only his hands and fingernails to create his sculptures. Joy radiates from him as he sculpts.
As a toddler, Clemons suffered a head injury in an accident; this changed the way he thinks, learns and communicates. While much was lost due to the injury, something miraculous also occurred, for as Clemons sometimes puts it, “God gave a gift.” He began showing a fascination with modeling materials and a tremendous inner drive to make sculpture. Even in situations where he did not have access to modeling clay, his determination to make models of animals was so great that he found materials in his environment that he could use for sculpting. For over twenty years he continued to practice his art in obscurity until the early 1980’s, when the movie Rain Man, which featured Dustin Hoffman in the role of a disabled man with remarkable skills of memory, brought international media attention to a phenomenon known as the Savant Syndrome. Savant Syndrome is a descriptive term applied to individuals who have both a developmental disability and a spectacular, genius-level skill in a specific area. Clemons is recognized as one of the world’s prodigious savants and has been featured on programs such as 60 Minutes, Geraldo, and the Discovery Channel’s World of Wonder. This media exposure gave him the opportunity to gain worldwide recognition for his art. From his youth, Clemons had not only the genius for his art, but has shown an inner vision to become successful with it, and those dreams are truly continuing to unfold in his life.
Clemons competing at the Special Olympics Colorado state meet in 2003
His personal successes extend beyond his art,for he has a rich and active lifestyle in his community of Boulder, Colorado. He lives in his own home with some assistance, and works part time on jobs in the community, in addition to doing his work as a sculptor. Seeking to inspire children’s creativity, he demonstrates his sculpting at schools in the area. Other personal interests include power lifting, in which he competes at the Special Olympics, and visiting the animals he enjoys so much at the Denver Zoo, the National Western Stock Show, as well as local farms and ranches. His radiant personality touches all who know him.
Clemons with his assistant Nancy Mason at a sculpture demonstration at the Gold Hill School Boulder Valley School District
Alonzo participated in a project aimed at increasing awareness about our tendency to DISCRIMINATE based upon our first impressions of a person. The resulting book may be found at thewhatithoughtisawbook.com. Look for Alonzo’s name in the Stories section. Alonzo was recently featured on 9News Denver – Colorado & Company.