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Image for Rebecca Covaciu; 13-year-old Roma artist

Rebecca Covaciu; 13-year-old Roma artist

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To mark international Roma day, we bring you the work of 13-year-old artist Rebecca Covaciu, winner of the Unicef Prize 2008

(©Rebecca Covaciu)

Rebecca Covaciu is a thirteen year old Romany girl with a story similar to many others. Her family comes from a village near Timisoara in Romania, which they left a few years ago due to the lack of work there.

After an initial stop off in Italy the Covaciu family (father Stelian, an evangelical vicar, mother Giorgina, and three other brothers, Samuel, Abdel and Manuel) went to Spain where a relative had found a possible job. When this fell through the family went back to Milan in Italy where they live on charity, helped by the EveryOne Group, an international human rights organisation.

(©Rebecca Covaciu)

The only difference is that Rebecca draws and is good at it; her pieces were noticed by Watching the Sky Group (an artist collective) which circulated them at an international level, while a professor at the Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti in Milan recognised the girl’s talent.

Thanks to a member of the Institutes management, Salvatore Amura, an exhibition was organised and she was then encouraged to put her work forward for the UNICEF Prize, which she won in 2008 with a series titled Mice and Stars.

(©Rebecca Covaciu)

Her drawings were displayed in Naples in an exhibition commemorating the Shoah, and also at the museum of contemporary art in Hilo, Hawaii.

(©Rebecca Covaciu)

For a while a family offered the Covacius a house in the Basilicata region but, given the impossibility of finding a job, they returned to Milan, where a house has been put at their disposal. The children go to school and Rebecca follows drawing and painting classes at the Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti in Milano. The family still live on charity and the neighbourhood had launched a petition to evict them from the area. Both Rebecca and her father were attacked and abused last summer.

Work presented to Fini (©Rebecca Covaciu)

On 23 March the EveryOne Group handed over one of Rebecca’s pieces to Gianfranco Fini, President of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, with the aim of increasing awareness of the xenophobic campaign and of the discrimination whipped up by the government at the end of last summer which hit immigrants, above all illegal ones, and which particularly affected the Romany community.

'It’s a touching and beautiful work' Fini commented. 'Her family has suffered enough. It’s now the task of the state institutions to see to it that they can live a dignified life, allowing this wonderful girl’s talent to develop calmly.'

Rebecca (Image:©Steed Gamero)

'Dear Europe' is a video interview of Rebecca in which she asks that her people no longer be the victims of discrimination. Why Europe? Because it’s seen as the last resort to turn to, the last power to which she can appeal.

Rebecca (Image:©Steed Gamero)

For those who wish to see Rebecca’s drawings, they will be on display from 1 to 11 of April at the Festival of Romany Culture Latcho Divo, Marseilles (

Translated from Rebecca Covaciu disegna l'Europa