Just Clara

“Hi, I’m from 2006 and I don’t speak but I’m lucky because my family is my voice. My mom is Brazilian, my dad Dutch-Canadian, but I grew up in Italy so I understand Italian, English, and Portuguese. At the moment, Frida Kahlo is one of my idols. I love ice cream, I have no friends my age and this is really bad, but I want to be a mother of triplets and have a swimming pool in the house.
When I was younger I would sneak into the kitchen to steal something to eat, but now that I’m a teenager I’m more interested in the Prince Charming thing.
Painting is my way of sharing my inner world. I don’t think I’m different: I simply use colors instead of words. My life has changed a lot since I have been painting and now it is important for me to use my art to say that life can be rich, wonderful, and inspiring whether you are normal or different. Why, by the way: no one is different.”

Clara was born in Florence on March 10, 2006. The doctors discover that she has had a perinatal stroke and offer her a life as a vegetable, but her parents manage to accompany her along a rehabilitation path in which Clara, showing unimagined strength and determination, surprises everyone with continuous progress. Although Clara cannot speak, read and write, she perfectly understands three languages. Despite having motor difficulties, she manages to run. Despite using her left hand with difficulty, Clara manages to paint.

 In a journey in search of something that would allow her to enter the world, Clara showed, in fact, an unexpected talent for painting.

 In 2018 the first solo show in Florence, with great critical and public success. Clara explores and expresses her emotional universe through the intensity of acrylic colors, on large canvases, representing an adolescent everyday life with strong colors, actually lived or imagined. She has exhibited in 18 cities including Rome, London, Miami, and Kobe, but her dream is a solo show in New York as Frida Kahlo, her favorite artist, from whom she draws the inspiration and strength needed to passionately engage in her artistic production. She is the first underage artist in Italy who, at the age of 12, receives consent from the judge for the opening her own business, an event necessary for the battle that her family is fighting together with her to find Clara’s place in the world, to have her economic independence and above all, making her dreams come true. Her works are listed on the international market and sold in Europe and overseas.

 Through a vital and artistic temperament full of explosive energy, Clara favors social inclusion in the world of the ‘invisible’ and invites us to break down the barriers of a limited vision of the concept of disability.

Mamma Betina

I am Brazilian and I came to Italy to study in 2004. The day I arrived in Florence, after having been to church (I am a very believer and, for me, Jesus is definitely rocking) I met Carlo, half Canadian, half-Dutch. We fell in love at first sight. One of those overwhelming loves, without reservations, one in which you meet in May, you get married in December, and in July you are expecting your first child… and you decide that Florence will be your city, your new world. Clara arrives, she is beautiful and we are crazy with joy. But then, slowly, the first fears arrive, because a mother understands, a mother senses. Our blond angel has something wrong with her. They tell me that I’m anxious, that I don’t have to worry, that every child has their own time, but when Clara is one year old, the diagnosis arrives. They give me a sheet that gives my nightmare a name: prenatal stroke. At the same time comes the sentence: my daughter is destined to a life as a vegetable. They tell us that she will never be able to talk, walk, write and understand, that the stroke has eaten a part of her brain, preventing it from developing.

I think I cried all my tears, but when desperation seemed to have taken over Carlo and me, we looked at each other and swore that we would give our daughter all the possibilities that the doctors were not available to give her. We started a rehabilitation program to teach her to walk, get up, to live. Her progress amazes everyone. Clara’s story is reminiscent of the bumblebee that according to physics could not fly, but she does not know it and flies anyway. Clara stands up, walks and smiles. She smiles with contagious joy. She does not speak, she does not write, but she understands three languages ​​and at the age of six, Clara begins to paint thanks to a teacher who accompanies her on her artistic path. But soon Clara decides to stop. It was the last month of 2015 when she decided to take back her brushes to tell what she has inside, but at first, her relationship with art is quite turbulent, not at all serene. Clara destroyed all the paintings she created or covered them with dense layers of black paint … then one day, in November 2017, I gave her the book telling the story of Frida Kahlo and it was love at first sight. It is the turning point.

Clara and the canvases becomes a reciprocated love and the brushes begin to paint those words that cannot come out of her mouth. Clara asks me if she can do an exhibition in New York as Frida did. At that moment I understand that my blond angel is throwing me a challenge and I say ‘Why not?’. That challenge changed our lives and today, those colors fill her life and manage to tell stories. My battle for her and with her is to make sure that many people stop and listen to her stories.

“Clara is not always easy, we know it well. It isn’t for you when you wonder why you don’t have friends your age. It is not for me every time that the indifference of the world tries to crush me … but then you come along and hug me and, without speaking, you reassure me that everything will be resolved. Sometimes you write little words on WhatsApp, sometimes you scream for three minutes when they invite you to an event … and the meaning of everything comes back to bloom, and the desire to succeed returns. The strength to embrace our challenges and conquer the world returns. The strength to shout that diversity is a value is back. Clara, I will always be there for you, and together we will make a difference ”.