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Issues of the Day Mouth and Foot Painting Artists, What's in a Name?
 

Imagine my puzzlement when I found a thickset envelope in my mailbox with the sender listed, in Hebrew and English, as Mouth and Foot Painting Artists. It is not a term one encounters every day.


On opening the small package I was struck with a bouquet of colors, paintings on the cover of greeting cards. Professional in appearance, the cards look like any you might find in a boxed set at a stationary store. On the back of each card appears the name of an Israeli artist and the descriptor, "painted by mouth" or "painted by foot." The artists of these cards are physically challenged and unable to paint using their hands. They produce their works, bookmarks, calendars, pot holders and other craft products, by holding their brush between their teeth or toes.   


A small pamphlet features the photos and a brief bio of the artists. Many have struggled with their disability since birth or childhood; their limitations derive from polio, strokes, disease and accidents. Many are married and have families, work, completed college degrees, and not a few are athletes.


The Israeli group was started in 1967 and is a branch of an international organization that began in 1956. The objectives of these artists include "being as independent as possible and not being a burden on society, expressing our feelings and ideas in color through our work, and receiving artistic and professional regard for our paintings."    


These are people who have overcome their physical limitations and allow their souls to soar. They seek recompense from the fruit of their artistic works, not charity. I was touched to receive the package and greatly respect the initiative.


© Yosef Gotlieb, . All rights reserved