Constable: Girl with autism shares art -- and joy -- with patients
Art Business

Constable: Girl with autism shares art — and joy — with patients

As a toddler, Mackenzie Collins not only devoured children’s books, but she loved to add a bit of herself to the stories with a crayon. "A lot of parents are like, ‘No! Don’t scribble in your book,’ but I just let her do it," remembers her mom, Mari Schmidt. "She taught herself to read when she was 4. She’s so creative." That creativity now fills 12-year-old Mackenzie’s bedroom with hundreds and hundreds of her drawings, stickers and stuffed animals. She lined the staircase in their Arlington Heights townhouse with colorful stickers and artwork depicting snowflakes and snowmen for winter, and recently redid the walls with signs of Easter. At least once a month, Mackenzie, who has autism and a host of painful medical and psychological issues, hands out her artwork to other children receiving treatment at Lurie’s Children’s Hospital in Chicago. "They like it a lot," Mackenzie says. She was inspired by the animal images posted inside the hospital’s elevators to give visitors a way to remember their floor. Every floor features an animal and is sponsored by a Chicago institution. For example, a lion marks the third floor, which is sponsored by the Art Institute of Chicago, and […]

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