Profile: Alonzo Clemons (1958-)

Alonzo Clemons is an American animal sculptor and savant. He lives in Boulder, Colorado.

Clemons suffered a severe brain injury as a child that left him with a developmental disability (with an IQ in the 40-50 range), but able to create very accurate animal sculptures out of clay. Clemons can create a sculpture of almost any animal, even if he has seen only a glimpse of it. He is also able to create a realistic and anatomically accurate three-dimensional rendering of an animal after only looking at a two-dimensional image for mere moments. He is most well known for his life-size renderings of a horse, but most of his works are smaller, and accomplished in less than an hour.

In 1986 he had a premiere exhibit in Aspen, Colorado. His works have sold for as much as $45,000.

Clemons began sculpting in school, where he would sit silently in the back of the classroom, molding bits of clay into tiny animals. When his teachers took the clay from him, he began scraping bits of pliable tar from the pavement around his school and working on sculptures in his room at night. Alonzo is now considered a top sculptor. He creates incredibly realistic sculptures of animals—mostly horses, antelopes, and bulls—after seeing an image of one for only a few seconds. According to his mother, he can see an animal on TV and then complete a sculpture of that animal in half an hour. Even though he is unable to tie his shoes or eat on his own, his mind somehow grasps the shapes and forms that he sees, and his hands are skilled in reproducing those images. When asked how he does it, Alonzo will simply smile and point to his head.

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