Larry Bissonette was born in Winooski, Vermont in 1957. A high fever at the age of two was the apparent cause of some kind of damage to his nervous system. At eight he was committed to Brandon Training School (BTS), at that time the state’s single institution for people with mental retardation. During his ten year confinement at BTS, Larry was diagnosed in turn as mentally retatrded, schizophrenic, clincally insane, and austistic. From Brandon he was transferred to the Vermont Psychiatric Hospital at Waterbury. However, at the insistence of his sister he was soon taken out and placed in a residential program for the developmentally disabled.
Bissonette has always manifested an irrepressible creativity. He was drawing prolifically at age five. At BTS he often jimmied his way into the locked workshop to draw, paint, and build through the night. Larry, now living at home with his family, continues to work in his studio and at GRACE’s weekly workshops with HowardCenter in Burligton, Vermont.