Alonzo Clemons – Artistic Savant

Alonzo Clemons is an animal sculptor and savant. He suffered a brain injury as a child that left him with severe mental disability, but he creates accurate animal sculptures of clay from a single viewing of an animal’s picture in as little as 20 minutes.

When asked how he could keep a picture of a horse in his mind and create the horse sculpture, Alonzo replied, “I remember. God in Heaven.“ Dr. Darryl Clifford, a psychiatrist who reviewed Alonzo’s abilities, explained,

That’s a very characteristic response. When you ask any of the savants, “How do you do it?“ they say they remember or it’s their mind . . . it just comes naturally to them.. . . He does . . . see a picture in his head. It’s there, and it’s much more detailed and has a retention much more than the rest of us do. We would have to go back and keep reinforcing that in our mind, especially with respect to detail.

Remarkably, Alonzo can look at a picture of an animal such as a horse and sculpt even the details he can’t see in the picture, such as the bottoms of the horse’s hooves with the horseshoes. He does not need to refer back to a picture. He has access to the image in his subconscious Awareness to create the sculpture.

Genius: Sponsored by Suzanne St. Pierre

Morley Safer, Savants and Genius: A Wonderful Mystery documentary, 1983