By Debra Muzikar
Often I think about what one person who has a passion can accomplish. Gee Vero proves that a very simple art project can have powerful results.
In 2009 German artist Gee Vero who goes by the art name “Bareface” was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. The diagnosis came as a relief. “For nearly forty years, I thought I was a total loser. I finally went for the diagnosis when Elijah, my son and hero, held up that mirror which said AUTISM on it. I could no longer look away.”
Elijah is nine years old and mostly nonverbal. He was diagnosed at age 2 1/2 which according to Gee is very early in Germany.
In April 2010, when World Autism Day went unnoticed in Germany, Gee conceived of The Inclusion Project. At that time, she was drawing half-faces of people. Her concept was simple. She would send prominent people half-faces to complete along with a letter explaining the project.
Her letter states:
“I am inviting well known people to take a step towards inclusion together with me. I am asking them to come and meet me in their own way on my picture which will then become ours! We would be showing in art something that we are still light years away in reality: tolerance, inclusion and acceptance of autistic people are not an illusion. Even two worlds that could not be more different can exist on one common territory, not just next to each other but with one another! The Art of Inclusion grows as it goes.”
The VIP is to complete the drawing which is included in every letter any way he or she likes. “If they cannot summon up enough inspiration for a drawing, a quotation or comment relating to the topic or even just their signature” shows support for the project. Temple Grandin told her that she wasn’t good at art and opted to sign her name. She also received pictures back from such autism notables as Donna Williams, Simon Baron-Cohen, Lorna Wing, and Uta Frith.
The response she received was remarkable. She now has over 80 Art of Inclusion pictures, some are outstanding.
And celebrities such as Sir Ben Kingsley, and the Prime Minister of Germany!
Since writing this story, Gee has had many others submit their art for inclusion to the project. Here’s German artist Silke Heyer’s composition.
Michael Leventhal “Star Child” made up of 26,000 separate images:
And below is Dani Bowman’s submission.
The project has been ongoing at any venues. The exhibit will be on display from January 22, 2015 in Naunhof, Germany. For more information on the project visit www.theartofinclusion.jimdo.com or visit Bareface’s art site at www.bareface.jimdo.com.