Too often able-bodied people complain about their lives, have pity parties, and become depressed. Well, suck-it-up, people! There are groups of American and international artists who have no use of their hands, so they paint with their mouths or their feet. MFPA is a fabulous for-profit organization, which helps disabled people learn to paint, helps disabled artists with their expenses, and helps them achieve their potential. Some have achieved national recognition. The work of these artists, who have no hands or cannot use them due to disease or accidents, is phenomenal. (They put my stick figures to shame.) I buy packets of MFPA cards a couple times a year, as well as their calendars.
Here are a few of the American and Canadian artists listed. The websites of international groups are in their national languages.
EVERIN QUINTERO BEALER
Mrs. Quintero Bealer was born on the 11th of September 1972 in Bogota, Colombia without arms and legs. After Primary School she completed the sixth year of secondary school in a long-distance study program. Since the age of 5 she has been painting Oil and Acrylic pictures. She has participated in several paint competitions in schools. Her hobbies are Music and Lectures. Everin now resides in La Grange, Georgia with her husband & children.
Ivar Benavides was born in 1953 in Antosagasta, Chile. Ivar was 11 years old when a kite he was flying became entangled in electric wires. Attempting to “rescue” the kite, Ivar was electrocuted, sending 12,000 volts through his system. The damage from the accident and subsequent complications led to the loss of both of Ivar’s arms.
Ivar lives in Vancouver, Washington with his wife and three children. He regularly speaks at his children’s schools and offers demonstrations in mouth painting.
Cindi Bernhardt became a quadriplegic at the age of 18, when she broke her neck in a fall from a second-floor window. While in the hospital, she learned to write using a specially adapted pen between her teeth. Her writing soon progressed to sketching, then to painting.
Today, Cindi’s works are featured in private collections throughout the United States, including one owned by William E. Simon, the former president of the U.S.A. Olympic Committee. During the 2002 Winter Olympics, Cindi carried her wheelchair-mounted Olympic torch through the streets of Pasadena, California, as part of the relay team that carried the flame throughout the country to the Salt Lake City Games.
Jesica Gacuson, from Hawaii was born with a birth defect known as bilateral congenital disorder which means she has no use of her arms and limited use of her legs. This proved to make all things in her life a challenge, as she had to learn to do everything with her feet instead of her hands. Jesica was determined to be like all the other kids and refused to let her disability come in the way of her dreams. Jesica learned to play the drums with her feet and she can even drive a car.
Kim Howard was born May 18, 1933 in Washington, DC. Trained as a real estate agent, Ms. Howard fell ill with spinal sarcoidosis in 1988 and almost became completely quadriplegic. Later, a car crash took away any remaining control of arms, hands and legs. A friend motivated Kim kim to attend art courses as a part of her rehabilitation. This was the starting point for her becoming a mouth painting artist. Long time MFPA member Robert Thome also gave her advice and encouraged her to paint with her mouth. The artist now resides in Honolulu, Hawaii and enjoys painting South Pacific landscapes and seascapes in oils.
Reva Brown was born in 1938, in the tiny rural town of Mud Lick, Kentucky.
Born with shortened arms which, with effort, can grip no more than a piece of paper, Reva learned to complete day-to-day functions with her feet. She began drawing with her feet, beginning first with cartoons, then progressing into landscapes, animals and religious works.
Daniel Laflamme was born premature with cerebral palsy in 1958 and never had the use of his upper limbs. The eldest of four children, he was brought up by loving and caring parents who encouraged and supported him in his determination to be independent.
Susie Matthias was born in London, Ontario. As a result of the drug Thalidomide, she was born without arms or legs. Despite her obstacles, she has always retained a positive outlook on life and the things that she can accomplish. Throughout her childhood and early adolescence, Susie discovered a talent for art. She excelled in painting, and with support from her parents, she developed her mouth painting technique.
If you are an art lover, please visit these websites and find out more about these super special artists: