Alba Luz SOCORRO PÉREZ
Birthplace: Tapachula, Chiapas, Mexico
scholarship holder of AMFPA since: 2004
Painting Method: Mouth painter
I was born on March 26, 1968 in Tapachula, Chiapas, Mexico.
I am the youngest daughter out of four siblings.
My parents worked trading regional foods. I had a normal childhood as any other healthy child of my age up until a strange increasing weakness in the joints started manifesting in my body.
At that time I was in the eight grade and each day it became more and more difficult for me to get out of bed due to the terrible pain I was experiencing in my joints.
At the beginning, my parents tried seeking help with alternative healing methods (herbal medicines and other options) with no results. We opted then to go to an allopath doctor who diagnosed me with rheumatoid arthritis. Medications prescribed only helped the pain somewhat. My worried parents, noticing that the condition was progressing, decided to take me to the City of Mexico to receive specialized medical attention. My father and three brothers stayed working in Tapachula to send my mother the money to pay for room and board and the very expensive treatments.
After a long time we returned with no positive results for my health. Unfortunately, nothing could be done to stop my sickness. Soon after, my father died due to a diabetic coma. By then, my brothers were married and my mother and I were the only ones left at home. The warm climate of the city increased my pains. My older brother, who lived in Cuernavaca, Morelos, offered his support and we went to live with him a year after my father´s death. My mother’s greatest wish was to find a cure for my sickness.
At that time, my joints were already deformed and the only hope was reconstructive surgery. The doctors offered a 70% chance of recovery and my mother arranged for economic help to pay for the operation. Later my mother and I moved to a low income housing apartment. Life had in store for me another difficult moment. My mother lost her life in a car accident dying instantly when she was hit by a moving vehicle. From that day on, I experienced the most difficult and complicated days of my life.
Thank God and the kindness of generous neighbors, I never went without eating and I also received help to move around in my apartment. The neighbor that helped me the most was Mrs. Toñita.
Once I was alone, I started ceramic painting and somehow managed to take courses to perfect my technique. I later started to offer classes in ceramic painting to children and adults. All this happened thanks to friends that would find interested groups from the different areas where they lived.
Somehow I started earning money to pay for my most basic needs. I had to find someone to help me cope with my personal needs since I could not fend for myself. Unexpectedly, to my door came a girl called Mercedes (Meche) who offered her services. By that time my health had deteriorated to such a state that I could no longer walk and I was using a wheelchair. My health, as well as my economic situation, started to hit bottom.
Finally one day, someone suggested I contact the Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists to see if they could help. I sent them a letter explaining my situation and my interest in painting. A long time went by, I cannot tell exactly, but I remember very well one night, before experiencing a bout of pain and a crisis of desperation, that I asked God and San Judas Tadeo, with all my strength, to please send me someone that could take on the responsibility of caring for me since I couldn´t anymore. Mercedes, who was taking care of me, was very depressed due to my situation. At her young age of 14, it was not easy for her to take on the responsibility of my care in my condition. This was not an easy task and she was afraid to leave me alone at times, plus I could no longer pay her. After much crying and talking loudly to God and San Judas Tadeo, I decided to put myself in their hands and calmness overcame my soul.
I fell profoundly asleep. The next morning, around 10:30 a.m., I received the most wonderful call of my life. An angel named John Grepe told me he wanted to meet me and the next day he knocked on my door and, to my pleasant surprise, he was standing right there in front of me. I explained my situation, I vented all my problems that I was experiencing and, after a long talk, and noticing my deteriorated health condition, he asked me to try to eat well and suggested a visit with a specialist. He added that, once this was taken care off, we would talk about my painting. From that moment forward he offered his protection and care.
When I was ready to start painting, Mr. John Grepe introduced me to Juan Carlos González, member of the Association, who offered his support and advice in learning how to paint with the mouth. A few months later I was accepted to the Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists with a scholarship. I also had the good fortune of receiving support from teacher Magda Torres Gurza, who helped me to perfect my oil technique in a workshop at Siqueiros in Cuernavaca, Morelos. Being a scholarship grantee of the Painters Association has radically changed my life. Now I have an income that helps me to improve myself day by day as a person, and I feel I am a productive woman like any other.
Every day I invest my best effort to be better in my work, and I have full confidence that in the near future I will stand out as a plastic artist. I have found in painting a reason to continue forward and it is becoming the main reason in my life. My life has been a constant challenge but, in spite of this, I am a woman of faith, dreams and hopes. I have been very fortunate to have had extraordinary people cross my path, like angels that came in such as Mr. John Grepe, my dear grandpa John whom I will always hold dearly in my heart and I shall be eternally grateful. His love, affection and understanding made me feel I was not alone.
My deepest thanks to the founder of the “Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists” for plotting a wonderful path full of colors pointing to victory.