"The Sincerity Project" Group Art Show Opens May 30 at Studio 18

"'Home' — what I've come to see working with artists and the special-needs community is that you can't say that word without getting a visceral reaction from people."

That's what Jill Slaughter, curator of special projects for the City of Pembroke Pines, quickly discovered when organizing the third-annual "The Sincerity Project." The group art show opens Friday at Studio 18 and features home as its theme. Works include interpretations by a crew of prominent South Florida artists and seven special-needs groups.

Slaughter gave the special-needs groups images of original work done by 18 participating artists — including Dave "Lebo" Le Batard, Kazilla, Henning Haupt, and Ruben Uberia — to interpret on paper, canvas, and handcrafted wooden sculptures. Marrying the groups of artists with nonartists is why the show is called "The Sincerity Project," based on the idea that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Slaughter says. One person from the special-needs group paints with her teeth, and another uses her feet to make art.

In the middle of the gallery will sit the Sincerity House, a 3-D installation consisting of 20 panels shaped like a house that measures 20 feet by 12 feet. The 18 invited artists painted each four-by-eight-foot panel — some are solid, and some resemble windows — based on the show's theme.

Urban realist and New Yorker Miguel Paredes created a Lucky Cat piece inspired by an Asian aesthetic. He says of the collaborative installation: "With each person contributing their own expressive panels, we're sure to come together to create a 'home' as individual as all those involved."

For artist Dianne Romero, AKA Nomiie Nation, home is "the happiest place in the world." The Miami high school art teacher says, "No matter what road you're on, you end up home." As a teacher, she often comes across students struggling with home life or, worse, homeless teens seeking a safe place.

It's this bizarre coming of age and desire to find their own footing in life that ­inspired her acrylic new-contemporary-style painting. It's of a teen girl made of stitches with a large round head holding a lantern, signifying her search for a new place, a new horizon. Birds surround her, which symbolizes her flight into the unknown.

Le Batard writes in his artist statement: "For me, no matter how bad things may have been outside, I was blessed to have a wonderful home to find sanctuary. A place of warmth, love and security. A place I could speak freely, laugh loudly and always find comfort. After having the pleasure of traveling around the world, more than once, I can honestly say that thankfully home was where my heart learned to fly."

John DeFaro's take on the subject is philosophical. He illustrated a large tree with a small house situated inside of it. "Home is not just a square box; it's so much more than that, and it's so personal to each of us," he observes. "For me, nature and I are one. And art helps us find our shelters from within. Home comes from within; it's not a physical place."

The opening reception, from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, includes live music performed by Corey Bost, a spoken-word performance by Maru Gonzalez, and music by a Whispering Pines student.

"All of the work I do as a curator is to engage the community and make art accessible and less intimidating," says Slaughter. "The art and artists involved are the bedrock on how the show moves forward. I feel joyful to give people such as the special-needs community who wouldn't ordinarily have the chance to show their work the opportunity."

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Andrea Richard