Creating “artability” among those with disabilities

Member creates art space for young talent

Member Erich Preis is an artist diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. He believes that being on the autism spectrum shouldn’t exclude you from expressing yourself with art.

A hub for creative expression

Erich dreamed of establishing a space where young artists, whether on the spectrum or not, could create their work. The space would also serve as a venue for young artists’ work to be displayed to the community. He achieved his goal when he squatted in an abandoned gas station on Long Island to fulfill his dream. Fast forward, and the Spirit of Huntington Art Center is now where all ages and all abilities are welcome to express themselves.

The Center aims to develop abilities for creative expression that transforms lives. It’s built on a foundation that nurtures students of all ages through educational and pre-vocational training in a structured, safe environment.


The Center’s Academy teaches students the skills and knowledge to work with digital art, computer graphics, and social media management. The Center also has an agency that engages individuals with special needs to work on real-world creative projects. They work alongside seasoned professionals who guide them in creating and maintaining memorable brands. With unemployment at 85% for young adults with special needs, this is a much-needed opportunity Preis has created.

Erich’s story on film

His story has been told in a documentary, “Autism Paints—The Spirit of an Artist.” The film highlights the Spirit of Huntington Art Center as the result of “one artist’s quest to fulfill a dream of opening an art school for students with special needs” and the “restorative power of self-expression through art.” Directed by David Stagnari and completed in 2017, the documentary shows how Erich’s efforts have given rise to inclusion and diversity in the arts.

To learn more about Erich and his work, visit his online portfolio. You can also visit online to learn more about the Spirit of Huntington Art Center. Photo credit: Spirit of Huntington Art Center.