Aiden Gamez for The Meadow
interviewer: Sara Sharif (@sarangelic)
interviewee: Aiden Gamez (@i.am.aiden.g )
Aiden Gamez is an incredible ten-year-old autistic artist. He’s diagnosed with a cognitive disability and is low verbal, which means that he expresses himself primarily through his art, interpretive dance, and music.
Aiden has been avidly painting and creating various forms of tactile art since he was 2 years old. His first serious work started at age 3 when his family noticed him taking finger painting to a whole new level. His pieces were so well thought out and fully covering that he gained interest from adults and other local artists in the local San Antonio art community.
His Instagram page managed by his mother K. Day was created to bring awareness to the world that autistic children are exceptional and extraordinary. Just because their speech and social skills may be impaired or delayed doesn't mean they don't have anything to say. And in Aiden's case, his body of work speaks volumes
Aiden's ideal 2021 Summer
“Go to New York with mom and dad.”
He’s never been to Time’s Square and has been wanting to since my trip last year. He knows we have plans to move around Manhattan within 5 years.
* in relevance to our issue #3
t h e i n t e r v i e w
Aiden is 10 years old and diagnosed as low-verbal autistic with a cognitive disability. The following interview will be in his mother's (Kat Day) words including quotations where Aiden answers directly.
1. Please start with a little introduction about yourself!
Aiden (he/him) is now in the 5th grade and participated in an inclusive learning system of partial special needs classroom and partial regular classes with the assistance of an aid. He loves the inclusion and now has a lot of friends and some teacher and staff fans at school. “I like school. I like science and friends.”
He’s been creating art since he was 2 and sold his first painting at age 3. He’s since continued to sell his art over the years and has now been published globally in various magazines and newspapers, held gallery exhibitions internationally and has appeared on television twice, a podcast for individuals with disabilities once.
“I make art. I paint, draw…I make comic books. Animations and effects are the best.”
2. You are such a talented artist at such a young age! Your condition has clearly not stopped you from expressing yourself! What drove you to be an artist?
“Mom. Mama has paint.”
As a freelance contemporary artist, I constantly had my art supplies and work area open. As Aiden became a toddler he grew increasingly interested in paint from watching me. I finally started setting out a giant painter’s cloth blanket and recycled card stock for him to finger paint on (and brushes which he occasionally used as well). Over time he became increasingly methodical and deliberate in his work, even developing an early technique. He enjoyed the praise he received from friends and family and was so excited and proud at three when he sold his first piece. Even then it was apparent he had a deeper understanding and relationship with art than I’d ever seen in a child so young.
3. How did you find your way to tactile and collage art?
“Mom has magazines. I pick pictures. I tell stories.”
In much the same way, he was 3 when I held classes for neighborhood children in which we did many projects, some of which centered around collage. Aiden was pretty natural about it. As long as we had a pre-cut pile he’d build images. Later he’d show interest in it only occasionally as he shifted to sculpting and drawing. Now as an older child he’s revisiting collage again. But now he enjoys creating mixed media works in which collage plays a part, but is met with paint and textiles and found materials.
*Tap image to view in full screen
4. Tell us about your journey with interpretive dance and music.
“I like to dance. I make music. I like The Beatles, Satchmo (Louis Armstrong)…”
Aiden is so free and open in dance. It’s a sort of therapy for him. We plan on registering him for interpretive dance classes in 2021 (he was held up this year due to the pandemic).
5. How has your journey been so far as a creative?
“I’m fine. I do good.”
Due to his cognitive disability, Aiden has little concept of the impact he makes on the outside world with his art, especially at such a young age. He, in no way, seeks fame nor does he grasp what that even means. Rather, he does what he loves every day. As his mother, I share the most developed and meaningful pieces he creates, and in turn that has led to public recognition naturally.
6. How has being an artist with a cognitive disability affected your work?
“It’s my story. I just paint. I draw. I tell the truth.”
Mostly, Aiden captures what he honestly sees, and what he imagines. From the outside looking in, he does show frustration due to his disability when it comes to having firm control over his brushes and writing tools. Dexterity is often an issue for him. He has a story he’s trying to get out and it complicates his process when he’s having issues. But he’s beautifully stubborn and pushes through to create finished pieces despite it.
7. You have sold over 200 pieces since 2013 and your first was when you were 3 years old! How did you and your family get the word out and how do you continue to sell your work?
It started with simply showing his work in person to family and friends who would come over until the first person said, “that’s amazing, can I buy that from him?” It honestly never occurred to me prior. After that, I began to gather his most completed pieces and ask his permission first which ones he wanted to keep and which ones he was ok with letting go. I priced them all and put out the word on social media. Most of his work sold within the first couple of weeks! Since then I’ve continued to utilize social media and now through different galleries his work has been submitted to as well.
8. What is your creative process as an artist? What rushes your creativity?
Aiden is led by his emotions and whim. He paints, draws, sculpts, animates, etc. only as he feels like it. When he starts, he usually will do so for a few days until his enthusiasm pivots to something else.
9. Who is your inspiration?
“I like Pablo Picasso, Vincent Van Gogh, Gustav Klimt, Wassily Kandinsky, Salvador Dali…”
10. I could not begin to understand what it must be like living with autism, but you have found a channel to express yourself and this is so inspiring! Is there any tips you would like to share with creatives, young and old, who live with similar conditions?
“You do fine. Tell the truth. You do good. It’s ok; you are good. You are enough.”
He’s always been encouraged and Aiden knows he’s perfectly himself and amazing just as he is. He does the best he can and is genuine. He knows there is nothing wrong with him and that different does not mean less.
“Try hard and be nice. Make friends. They try too.”
He encourages both neurotypical and neurodivergent individuals to learn one another. In doing so we find strength and enrich our communities.
11. How has the current pandemic affected your work?
More time has equaled much more focus and extended art education. He watches a lot of tutorials on YouTube as well.
12. How can we gain access to your art and support your work?
@i.am.aiden.g on Instagram – always open to inquiries as his art is continuously posted there.
Likewise, we are soon to sell his original artwork and prints on our store website, The Imaginarium Wonder Emporium
13. You are growing rapidly in your career and you have already seen great success! What should we expect next, in the near future?
Aiden continues to be published for his work with an article coming up in To Be Young (And Disabled) which is a magazine featuring young disabled individuals. As well, DisArt has a podcast coming up for which Aiden was a featured guest. He’ll be performing in The Imaginarium Wonder Emporium's second film project on January 7. And as time goes by we’ll continue to embrace the opportunities that come his way and are honored to help him every step of his journey.