Andrei Palmer’s Cardboard Cars

A Long Journey to New York City to Debut at The Outsider Art Fair in 2011

Andrei Palmer has earned his Outsider status, although, until very recently, no one in his family had heard of the word. His early childhood was spent in a series of Romanian orphanages where lasting memories of abuse and neglect led to developmental delays and social challenges. Since his 1993 American adoption at the age of six, Andrei has been on a slow recovery from post-institutionalization trauma, a disorder on the autistic spectrum.

“He just sees things differently than others,” says his mother, a Christian author who runs the Refugee Sewing Society, teaching needlework skills to immigrants from war-torn countries,  “He’s always been interested in how things fit together.” Palmer, now 23, watches traffic when driven to work at a warehouse, telling us “But sometimes I like to stay quiet and look out the window and notice things about cars that others might not”.

From his own observations, not car magazines or similar, he draws detailed sketches on cardboard sheets recycled from orange juice pallets at his workplace. This becomes the frame to which he attaches “parts” crafted from wooden rods, aluminum-coated paper, chicken wire, blister-packaging plastic, fabric, discarded toy car rubber wheels and any found items considered necessary. Typically 2 to 3 feet long, some have working lights with batteries hidden in the trunks or under the hoods.  Palmer’s production process – equal parts skill, concentration and patience with a constant background hum of 80’s rock – can take from several days to a few weeks.  Then follows a demanding inspection by quality control to ensure high standards are met.

Courtesy Marion Harris

Until recently, the cars were hardly known outside Andrei’s home-town near Atlanta. Like many car devotees, Andrei is not comfortable in the role of car salesman. They will be available exclusively through the Park Avenue dealership of Marion Harris and at Outsider Art Fair.


About Sanford L. Smith & Associates

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