My name is Mariam and I am a visual artist, mouth painter, speaker and advocate for people with spinal cord injury. I am a member of the Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists (MFPA). I am also a member of the Associate Board at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, helping with events like Art In Motion raising funds for RIC’s art therapy program.
My artistic interests are constantly morphing as I like to experiment with traditional oil painting and modern mixed media techniques. My paintings and other works have been exhibited internationally and are in numerous private collections. A few times a year I exhibit my works in galleries, the details of which are posted on my Mariam Paré Art & Design Facebook page as they get scheduled. I paint prolifically in my home studio in the western suburbs of Chicago, and continue to divide my artistic output between figurative, abstract, and semi-abstract modes.
People ask me how I started painting with my mouth… The answer is, I’ve been making art in some form or another my whole life. I have been drawing and painting since I was a little girl and have focused on art all through school. When I was 20 I became the victim of gun violence. I was shot by an unknown assailant while driving a friend’s car (which you can read more about my life in my Short Bio link above). It was an all-too-real example of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I sustained a C5/C7 spinal cord injury that rendered me quadriplegic. My life was never the same again. The injury left me with only limited function in my hands and permanently unable to walk. I had a 5 month long rehabilitation process, during which I had to relearn to do almost everything I had previously taken for granted. Painting was one of those things I discovered that I could still do, but just in a different way.
So began my new artistic journey as a “mouth painter”.
The new way in which I was painting with my mouth was very different from what I was formerly taught to do with my hands in art school. I could utilize some of the same techniques, but from a physical standpoint there was a lot that was different. There wasn’t much written on the art of mouth painting nor people I could look to for instruction about it, so learning to paint with my mouth was a bit experimental at first. I taught myself through trial and error and incorporated my previous artistic knowledge when I could. In the long run all those challenges were worth it. Being able to paint and express myself artistically again gave me the renewed purpose in my life which I very much needed at that time.
Seventeen years later I am still painting and creating art. Painting with my mouth is like second nature for me now. Through Art I have immense freedom. I still feel that I am, and always will be a student of art, and of the world. I am very happy being an Artist and I hope to be forever searching and unwilling to deny my curiosity.