Disabled Filipino artists paint with feet, mouth

Fri Jul 31, 2009 1:24pm EDT
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By Michaela Cabrera

CAINTA, Philippines (Reuters Life!) - A diving accident left Jovy Sasutona paralyzed from the neck down when he was 17. But it didn't dampen his passion to paint.

Sasutona has been painting with his mouth for 24 years, and has mastered the technique, painstakingly burnishing the details of his still lifes. Sometimes he paints from his bed, lying down.

"It's a big deal, how painting has rebuilt my broken dreams. This is what I love doing, and this is where it all came together," Sasutona told Reuters Television.

"I can't deny that I still have personal problems, but they disappear when I paint."

Sasutona is one of six disabled artists in the Philippine chapter of the Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists (AMFPA) who make a living painting with their feet or mouth. The AMFPA has 726 members in 74 countries.

AMFPA artists in the Philippines receive a monthly stipend of $460-1,850. The organization commissions their oil, watercolor and acrylic paintings and prints them on greeting cards and calendars.

The artists are hoping to find a bigger market for their paintings, so their association can support more artistically inclined persons with disabilities (PWDs). Their paintings cost 6,500 to 30,000 pesos ($135-625) each.

There are nearly one million PWDs in the Philippines, around 136,000 of whom are either paraplegic, quadriplegic or have lost a limb.   Continued...