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About Me

 

I am an aspiring professional artist born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a progressive genetic disease. I wish for my story to open the hearts and minds of others seeking the inspiration to move forward and pursue their God-given purpose.

I spent much of my youth in a hospital bed dealing with respiratory problems. The surgeries and needles felt endless. I felt entrapped in a cruel life of consistent suffering.

Interestingly, whenever I was admitted into the hospital, I found myself in the same room. In this room, on the ceiling directly above the bed, were tiles of artwork created by other patients. It was here I found hope during my darkest hours.

After observing these art pieces for some time, I attempted to replicate them. From the moment I began drawing and painting, it was a feeling which may only be described as heaven. It took me from a place of hopelessness to pure joy and I found a newfound optimism for my experiences. It was as if I couldn’t hear the heart monitors and I couldn’t feel the needles. For the first time, I felt free.

“Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.” Jeremiah 1:5 Being young, I did not understand why certain things happened, but now I am eternally grateful. I believe God created everyone for a purpose and everything happens for a reason.

As I aged, while my body became progressively weaker, my mind strengthened. I learned to adapt and think creatively. By age 20, the weakness in my body became more evident and I could no longer adequately create art using my right arm.

Fortunately, before I graduated high school, my art teacher presented me with some abstract art that a former student had created. She found a large blue canvas which had been thrown away and assisted me in making my first abstract painting. My spark for art was restored through this disposed canvas, calling to mind the proverb “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Only after losing strength in my right arm did, I transition from a realism to an abstract artist using my left arm. I began using innovative techniques such as throwing paint from a cup onto the canvas using the momentum of my wheelchair.

Eventually my left arm weakened to where in 2015 I could no longer paint, however I persevered regardless. In high school, I took a course in Photoshop as I had an interest in graphic design. I did not realize the important role this would later play in my life.

With time, I would no longer have the strength to hold a cup and create abstract paintings, but I stayed optimistic. I could still move my fingers, so using a mouse app on my phone I designed a 2D painting system on my computer using Photoshop, which would help me paint using technology.

In 2019, my health began to drastically decline, and I went from weighing about 160 pounds to 93 pounds. I met a doctor who would later come to my house for a home visit. Noticing my health was deteriorating, he looked around the room, observing all my paintings. He asked, “who created these beautiful paintings?” When I told him it was me, his expression changed to that of amazement. I explained to him I could no longer paint after losing strength in both of my arms, and he thoughtfully stated that my inability to create art was most likely relevant to my persisting health issues.

I showed him drawings of the digital painting system I designed, and he became determined to help me paint again. He knew I hated hospitals, especially surgeries, but explained frankly that if I did not get a feeding tube immediately, I would not survive much longer. In perfect timing, after returning home from the hospital, my doctor later discovered a non-profit organization called Easterseals from one of his patients, which helped people with disabilities become independent. I began working with them and was introduced to an engineer whom I worked with for several months. With a small budget, we underwent the project of bringing my painting ability back to life.

Once the system was complete and I poured my first cut of paint onto the canvas, it felt like my art life was reborn. Unfortunately, the system was just a prototype and was not very precise or accurate in what it can do, so after attempting to work with it for several months I decided it was not serving my needs. It did, however, revive my drive to persist in my dream of becoming an artist, so I began to train my assistants on how to throw paint on a canvas like I used to. They would be my arms and I would direct them.

When I first began on this journey, my goal was not only to build a painting system for myself but for others going through a similar situation, such as my best friend Corey, who has the same disability. We grew up together and would challenge each other with our drawings.

For some time, I felt totally defeated in achieving what I considered my God-given purpose in life. This was until I discovered the Earn Your Leisure financial education platform. EYL hosts a podcast which teaches economics and business, and I drew huge inspiration from their message.

I hired a mechanical engineer and redesigned the entire system from scratch. 6 months later, my final design is complete and now I plan on using the 100+ paintings I’ve done over the years to raise funds to build the first painting systems. I plan to use my future artwork to raise money to make sure no one in this situation must go through the same battle.

“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:”-Ecclesiastes, 3:1

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