ARC Enlists Clients in Calendar Shoot to Challenge Perceptions of Disabilities

Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring is one of the masterpieces restaged for the calendar project.
Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring is one of the masterpieces restaged for the calendar project.
Zaira Aleman

The holiday season is a time many folks start thinking seriously about the year to come — and, for the highly organized, a time to seek out a decorative wall calendar. There are swimsuit calendars and pet calendars, and even calendars featuring pets in swimsuits. But for something truly distinctive, few calendars are as intriguing as those produced by the ARC Pikes Peak Region, featuring models with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

The group's 2015 calendar offered an impressive gallery of locals recreating a series of well-known celebrity portraits from the twentieth century, including iconic images of James Dean, Audrey Hepburn, John Lennon and Albert Einstein. The 2016 calendar is an even more elaborate production: a restaging of famous paintings and portraiture, from Johannes Vermeer's "Girl with a Pearl Earring" to self-portraits by Van Gogh and Kahlo and beyond. 

All of the images involve models who are ARC Pikes Peak Region clients or professionals in the disability field (or, in some cases, models who fit both categories, such as Van Gogh model Arthur Wirth, an individual on the autism spectrum who serves on the group's board of directors and is an active member of the local self-advocacy group Include USA). The props and clothing come mostly from ARC thrift stores; the photography is by Zaira Aleman of ZA Photos, with makeup and hair styling from other volunteers. 

The aim of the project is not simply to raise money for the organization (although you can pick up a calendar for a donation of five bucks or more) but to challenge public perceptions of individuals with disabilities. "The intention of this year's calendar is to raise the bar in terms of people's abilities and to just have fun," says Craig Severa, advocacy coordinator at the ARC PPR and the driving force behind the calendars. 

To learn more about the 2016 calendars and ordering options, check out the ARC Pikes Peak Region website


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