Paralyzed artist paints with her mouth

National

NAPERVILLE, Ill. (WHTM) – WBBM-TV reports at the age of 20, an Illinois woman became a victim of gun violence that left her paralyzed.

Naperville artist Mariam Pare’s work is painstakingly precise. Each brush stroke has a purpose. It’s a challenge for every painter but perhaps more so for Pare, who paints by mouth.

“Learning to paint with my mouth humbling, but I knew the knowledge was inside of me and saw the potential,” Pare said in an interview with WBBM.

Pare learned her craft after a bullet left her a quadriplegic. She was in art school, visiting a friend in Virginia and sitting at a stop sign when it pierced her car and hit her in the back.

“I watched my hand fall off the steering wheel, I literally, my eyes were open and my hands fell limp,” Pare said.

Those hands, once very essential to her art, now useless. But after rehab and learning to write her name by mouth, Pare became determined to paint again.

Pare said, “It was like a lifeline, it gave me purpose, gave me something to work on.”

WBBM says 23 years later, Pare is now an associate member of the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists, a group that gives stipends to artists accepted into the program. This year, Pare is one of four U.S. artists whose work was chosen to be part of MFPA’s annual Christmas card sale, the proceeds of which go back to the artists.

MFPA’s artist counselor, Kate March said, “They’re all aware of this gift that they have then when they’re selected by us or one of the other publishing houses, it validates why they’re doing what they’re doing.”

It also means Pare is a working artist, supporting herself, in part, through her paintings. It’s an achievement for any painter. Which is just how Pare sees herself.

“I don’t want people to say ‘oh, good for you, oh the nice disabled artist,’ no, I’m an artist and I want my work to stand for itself,” Pare said.

MFPA has 800 artists worldwide, whose work is reviewed every year. WBBM says the shooter in Pare’s case has never been caught.

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