Genevieve Kumapley

Genevieve Kumapley
Entitled "The Wall of Silence," my book shows a "wall of fabric constructed from one of my husband's
Ghanaian shirts. The wall represents the barriors in the African Diaspora with regards to the negative
perception of individuals with autism. Families experience feelings of isolation, a lack of recognition and
resources for their children. There is also the inability to articulate the name of one's child's illness,
misperceptions from society, and they are often overwhelmed by feelings of shame.
Inside the wall are traditional signs/symbols of God and hope, cut from the same shirt - "Gye Nyame" or
"Except for God," symbolic of God's intervention through societal recognition and support for families and
individuals(s) with autism; and Nyame Birbi wo soro or "God is in the heavens," is a symbol of hope and a
reminder of God's dwelling place and his constant support and presence.
While the front of the wall signifies hope, the words behind the wall signify feelings of despair and shame
that the families internalize. Nevertheless, the fact that God moves through us, through people in the
society, shows families and individuals with autism that there is a gateway to hopefulness.
Thou seemingly impenetrable, in my journey through autism, my goal is to break down the wall. I aspire
that all mothers of African descent who have a child with autism will be inspired to stand up and speak out
about their journey with autism.
Debra Lee
Entitled “Faith Tree,” the back side of my book is a drawing of a dead tree stump with healthy green
leaves stemming from within. The concept for my piece derives from a personal story of anguish when I
nearly lost my house due to foreclosure. This house had been in my husband’s family for decades, the
house where I was married, the house where my children were born and raised, the house where my
youngest two, who have ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), have the space they need to be themselves. It
was a difficult time for us financially and I had nightmares many nights wondering where we would go if
we lost our house, worrying that we would have to live in a cramped apartment and people would
complain about the noise from my children.