Mouth and Foot Artists
By Rafiq Ebrahim
Glen Ellyn IL

Crippled by any disability, many succumb to the blow and give up all hopes of living a normal life or resuming the usual daily activities. They feel shattered, depressed and begin living in negativity, depending on help and assistance from others.
But there are others who courageously brave the storm, fight all odds and come out successful in life. They believe that success begins with a dream and the determination to make it come true, no matter what obstacles they have to overcome.
In Atlanta, Georgia, USA, in the early sixties, a number of disabled artists formed an organization called The Mouth and Foot Painting Artists. Here, talented artists, who lost the ability to use their hands due to illness, accident or some birth defect, produce unique works of art with the brush held by mouth of foot. The organization offers them the opportunity of living independently and with dignity through the sales of their inspirational works, reproduced as greeting cards, calendars, gift tags and book marks through out the world, and not force them to live on charity.
Some years back, The Coca Cola Company at their headquarters in Atlanta held an exhibition of over 160 paintings created by these artists. It was a big success and the artists received due recognition along with monetary benefits.
Some of the gifted artists who are associated with the organization are Brom Wikstrom, Nancy Rae Litteral, Cindi Bernhardt, Stanley Obvitsky and a lot of others whose works are exhibited and bought all over the world.
Brom Wikstrom was a twenty-one-year old art student, when he became a quadriplegic as a result of a driving accident. During rehabilitation Brom started to paint holding a brush in his mouth, never doubting he would continue to pursue his artistic career. His paintings are now sold in many countries.
Nancy Rae Litteral, from Ohio, became paralyzed from neck down because of a car accident when she was just eighteen. She has recently received ‘Outstanding Ohioan” award.
Cindi Bernhardt, from California, also became quadriplegic at eighteen when she broke her neck in a fall. She has attained such a proficiency in her paintings that many celebrities, like actor Morgan Freeman, buy her works.
Stanley Obritsky, from New Jersey, had an audience with late Pope John Paul II in Rome, and was highly applauded for his work.
Paintings of Michael Monaca currently decorate the lobby of Rutgers University in New Jersey.
A visit to this unique Art Organization would make you believe that really there is nothing impossible in the world.


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
2004 . All Rights Reserved.