Larry Staida, a native Texan, was the only child of a career military family and spent much of his childhood living abroad. As a teenager, Staida began to exhibit behavior that would eventually lead to a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia. Disowned by his family, the Austin State Hospital (ASH) became his home for the next 20 years. About midway through his hospitalization, Staida became involved in the ASH art program, and his interest in creating art has developed significantly in the past several years.
While many patients find art-making a calming, meditative experience, Staida approaches painting with an “energetic, kinetic approach, channeling his energy through the process of painting,” according to his mentor and ASH art educator, Kathryn Carlson. She describes his process as “emoting on paper.” Though his work is characterized by vibrant color, for which he has a natural sensibility, he claims his favorite color is black. Now in his late 30s, Staida relocated in late 2004 to a halfway house in Austin, Texas.