FOND DU LAC, Wis. — Every art piece in Grant Maniér’s collection is one-of-a-kind. The 26-year-old is an “eco-artist,” who exclusively uses recycled materials.
Spending most of 2020 indoors, the Texas-born artist used thousands of pieces of recycled jewelry for an eco-art collection. For the collection’s prized piece, a collage creating a dragon called “DIVOC the Conquerer” (COVID spelled backwards), Maniér used more than 8,000 pieces of recycled paper, jewelry, foil cases from contact lenses, as well as his signature material: puzzle pieces.
Maniér has autism, and realized years ago tearing paper and creating art helped calm his anxieties. His art has become more than a hobby, as many of his works go for big money, often at charity auctions to benefit children with special needs. In total, Maniér’s works raised more than $350,000 for hearing aids, wheelchairs, summer camps and scholarships among other needs.
In 2021, Maniér and his mother, Julie Coy, packed up from Texas and moved to Fond du Lac, where Grant studies animation and graphic design at Moraine Park Technical College. He uses those skills in his job at SSM Health’s Treffert Center, a facility focused on autism, behavior and communication disorders.
Throughout his first semester, Maniér had a persistent cough, which seemed at first like bad allergies. But after many appointments and tests, oncologists diagnosed him with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
“I just had to take a moment to just breathe, take it in,” Maniér recalled. “When I saw my PET scan, it showed me the mass right here in my chest. I knew right then and there, ‘Yep. It’s true.’”
Maniér had to take a step back from work as he undergoes chemotherapy treatments, but his Treffert Center colleagues are all behind him.
When Maniér's hair started to fall out, Dr. Jeremy Chapman, child and adolescent psychiatrist, handed him clippers and allowed him to shave his hair in a show of support.
“I felt that if we could give Grant just a little chuckle or a little bit of confidence as he heads into this process, which is very lonely and very scary to do by yourself, then it would be worth it,” Chapman said.
Maniér said he knows he is not alone, and said he and his mother will get through his toughest battle together.
“We hold each other up,” Coy said. “We know when one is down, the other one has to be strong. That’s how my mom would have done it.”
Maniér said his art keeps him grounded, and his favorite project is always his next one. Gallery Frame Shop in Fond du Lac will display a collection of Maniér’s work throughout the month of April, which is Autism Awareness Month.