Noah Williams is an 11-year-old boy living an exceptional life. He was a 26-week micro-preemie with a dismal prognosis for life. Daily, Noah is confronted with obstacles due to cerebral palsy, epilepsy and visual impairment. But, Noah continues to embrace life through a variety of ways like assisted-running, public speaking and art.
Noahland Art was founded in a unique way. Noah attended a local art camp where kids wanted to paint their national flags. Many countries were represented from China to Israel to the United States. When arriving at Noah’s flag, one of the campers said “It’s Noahland!” And that is how Noahland Art was born. Welcome to his “country” where being differently-abled does not mean less than— it just means different. It is a place where he refuses to be defined by his disabilities and chooses to be embraced for his uniqueness.
Noah likes to travel and spend time with family and friends. He makes people think past textbook knowledge, is a prankster who loves to laugh and indulges his mom in trying new activities. Noah uses his art in a line of personal greeting and thank you cards.
When did your interest in art start?
My mom put me in several summer art camps in 2017. We had a Jackson Pollock week and that’s when I truly expressed myself. I don’t paint like other kids. Since Pollock was an abstract artist, this was a great fit for my abilities. My teacher, Ms. Nicola, was instrumental in helping to uncover my hidden talents as she thought and worked outside of the box to ensure I could participate with the class in my unique way.
What do you enjoy most about painting? What is most challenging?
I can express myself and create something. The most challenging thing is being dependent on others to help me with the supplies and working on their timeline.
How long does it take you to complete a painting/a set of cards?
I usually complete a painting in an hour, unless I am trying something new, then it could take a couple of days. To complete a set of cards depends on how I am feeling and how cooperative my helpers are.
What are some preconceptions about special needs kids/artists that you hope to correct?
My mom says I’m differently-abled. She says words create pictures and people make up stories from those pictures. People think because they see my disabilities, and they are significant, that I can’t do anything. That is just not true. I am funny, charming, creative, charismatic, very observant, and, at times, mischievous, yet many people don’t take the time to get to know me to see that side of me.
When you meet someone with a disability, you have done just that— met one person with a disability, and not all disabilities are visible. People are more similar than different. We work hard just like everyone else. We understand way more than we are given credit. We can be slow, just know we’re processing. If I don’t get the chance to try, I automatically fail. If you do not expect anything from me or are not willing to challenge me, why should I work to prove you wrong? Les Brown says, “No one rises to low expectations.”
Noah’s Art and Cards: https://www.naomidwilliams.com/shop-1
Noah Williams photo by Charmane Freeman-Greene