Lázaro LEÓN PAVANA
Birthplace: Epazoyucan, Hidalgo, México
scholarship holder of AMFPA since: 2001
Painting Method: foot painting artist
I was born on June 11, 1978 in Epazoyucan, Hidalgo, Mexico with a congenital dystrophy in my upper limbs that limited my physical development and my general daily coexistence.
Since I was very young, I could not use my arms and hands the normal way. So it became very natural for me to use my feet, not only to walk, but to do all kinds of chores: eat, play and later, write and sketch.
My attendance to grade school was delayed somewhat since my community school thought that I would not be able to integrate myself to the teaching system offered to other students. It was also difficult for the teachers to accept the fact that I could write with my foot. When I finally was accepted at the age of 8, they realized that I had the capacity to respond to the study requirements.
I responded to learning as any normal child would. However, I was particularly good at drawing.
After six years I finished grade school and when I was fifteen, I registered in Santa Monica high school, located in a town three kilometers from home. So I walked to school as needed. While attending the course in Artistic Activities, I developed my talent for sketching and drawing with constant encouragement from my teachers.
In 1995, I finally graduated from high school.
I could not go on to take College preparatory courses because the financial situation at home did not allow it. For many years I helped with the chores in the field with no other plans other than surviving day by day.
I was always a very quiet person. On one occasion, I travelled to the capital of my state. While walking I saw some signs close to the Autonomous University of Hidalgo (UAH) that offered courses in painting in their art workshops.
Overcoming my shyness, I went in and inquired about the courses. I was lucky to have encountered very nice people that showed me the facilities and they even encouraged me to sketch on drawing cardboards that they placed on the floor. They were all very surprised with what I did and they invited me to register myself as a regular student. I was very interested, but I hesitated, since I did not have enough money to purchase the necessary materials.
I am grateful to God that the University offered to help me. So I went back to studying precisely what I had always enjoyed, painting.
I took my first classes in the middle of 1999 and I advanced very quickly. Dealing with water colors and acrylics was not difficult for me and, in a few months, I was already painting my first pictures.
We were close to the year 2000 when the school organized various commemoration activities. The art workshop organized a combined exhibition and three of my works were included. Someone had the idea of placing a short biography of me next to my paintings, to highlight the fact that they had been created with my foot.
A few days later, the workshop teacher called me to the office and handed me some brochures that a visitor had brought after the exhibition. It was about the Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists in the city of Mexico that some visitors had brought to the university. After reading the brochures in detail, the teacher convinced me to apply for a scholarship with the Association.
Truthfully, this sounded like a dream. It was difficult for me to believe that I could have this privilege, but the teacher made me understand that I would not loose by trying and could get a lot if I was successful. At the beginning of 2000 I sent in some of my paintings and waited a few months for the response.
Finally, in March of 2001 I received the good news that I was accepted as a scholarship grantee by the Association. It was one of the most wonderful moments in my life! I cannot express in words what it meant to someone like me to achieve this award. Up until that time, I had very few reasons to feel grateful to life. It was like all of a sudden everything changed around me, and I even felt like another person.
The monthly stipend that I receive from the Association allows me to continue studying my painting career at the university, helps me to improve the quality of my work and not to have to rely on my family for financial support.
As time goes by I am getting more recognition as a painter, and I have full confidence that I will be able to achieve my dreams.