Always an artist, Mariam Pare is still living her dreams 16 years after being caught in the cross fire of gang violence.
Looking at Mariam's paintings, you would never guess she paints with her mouth.
" It took a long time to relearn how to do the things that I used to do with my hands with my mouth, but I seem to have gotten into a level where I think that I'm painting just as well with my mouth, " Mariam said.
Painting with her mouth is not easy.
"I hold the brush loosely with my teeth. People ask me am I moving my lips. No, I'm moving more my whole face. So, I gently hold the brush, and I just move my head. A lot of times, I am having to move the canvas a lot to be able to reach because I just have a smaller area of reach. I just work on small sections at a time, and I can do pretty large paintings using that technique," said the artist.
Like most artists, Mariam paints every day.
"You know, the days that I don't get to paint are usually only because something else is distracting me or needs my attention," she said. "Being an artist is kind of like a lifelong journey. You're always getting better, and I'm always hopeful to see what I'm gonna create and maybe create that masterpiece, you know, the quintessential piece that's gonna define my life or who I am."
At age 36, Mariam has established a place among the mouth and foot painting community.
"I do exhibit in galleries locally. My major way of income with my art is through the Mouth and Foot Painting Association where I transfer them my copyrights, and I get paid a monthly stipend, and through them, they facilitate the reproduction of my work in cards, calendars and all different kinds of products, like puzzles and wrapping paper. And it's distributed worldwide through them. It's kind of like a licensing deal, and that's the way I prefer," Mariam said.
If you are interested in purchasing Mariam Pare's artwork go to www.mariampare.com.