José Erick CALVILLO BORJA
Birthplace: Ciudad de México, México
scholarship holder of AMFPA since: 1998
Painting Method: Mouth painter
I was born in the city of Mexico on January 30, 1978.
I come from a humble but very hard working family. The members are my father, Mr. Andrés Calvillo Benítez, my mother Mrs. Petra Borja Torres and my oldest brother Fernando Calvillo Borja, and many other family members and friends that have given me their unconditional support in spite of the physical condition that I was born with.
At the time of my birth the doctors realized I had a physical problem. They told my father that I had been born with a disability and to find a way to explain it to my mother. It was very disheartening news. In any event, we had to continue forward. I was transferred to the Children´s Hospital in Mexico were I was treated and I was diagnosed with severe Arthrogriposis which is a deformity of the bones in the upper and lower limbs, affecting part of the hip.
So my rehabilitation took place at different hospitals. Some of them would not accept me due to my lack of financial capacity. At some point, my mother armed herself with courage and decided to spend the night in the Mexican Institute for Children´s Care (IMAN) which is currently the National Institute of Pediatrics (INP), and her sacrificed worked. I was accepted to continue my rehabilitation which was basically having surgeries as needed.
During my first 5 years of life I had surgery after surgery and was constantly getting different pulmonary ailments that put my life at risk. Since they knew I did not have my full mental capacity developed, at the age of six I was taken to a special school for disabled children. Teachers and social workers there noticed that I could do many things with my mouth and I was admired for this. This is how I entered kindergarden for one year.
At the age of 7 I started grade school and continued my rehabilitation at DIF (National System for the Integral Development of the Family). At 13, when I finished grade school, I had another surgery and unfortunately, it did not work. So my family and I decided not to continue with this effort, since the possibilities of walking were almost slim to none.
When I entered high school in 1991, destiny worked its way and I ended up taking a workshop on plastic arts. At that time, I started to handle paint brushes and this sparked my interest since I did not have much difficulty painting. Of course, the beginning was somewhat difficult but, as time went on, I got better, I started organizing exhibitions with my classmates and always felt I had a special gift. In spite of the fact that my classmates were disabled, I was the only one that painted with the mouth.
Each year my techniques improved, I made first places and earned my professors´ admiration. After high school I wanted to continue to college but unfortunately, preparatory schools did not have ramps or elevators installed and my aspirations to continue studying were aborted.
After one year of not being involved in any type of activity, my family started worrying and so did I, since this affected me very much emotionally. This was related to the fact that disabled people do not have many options for growth and achievement. At that time, some friends suggested that I attend a school of plastic arts and, since I already had some knowledge of the art of painting, they thought it would be a good opportunity to continue in this field.
We interviewed with workshop professor Brillitte Loire who was French, and I was accepted unconditionally. She is a person that has earned my high esteem. I really owe her all I have learned. It was then that I started this journey to become a painter. At the beginning it was very difficult and uncomfortable, but some of the classmates offered all the help possible.
Some time after, something unexpectedly happened in my life that I would have never imagined and that changed my life. I continued with my studies and participated in collective exhibitions with my workshop classmates. However, one day, my classmate Andrés Hoble handed me an invitation for an exposition about the Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists.
An interview was arranged with the representative of the Association in Mexico, Mr. John Grepe. I showed him some of my work and he gave me a lot of hope. We gave him all the necessary documentation and, after one year, in February of 1998, the awaited letter arrived notifying me of my acceptance to the Association as of March 1, 1998. I would begin to receive a scholarship grant to continue my academic artistic formation and would undoubtedly receive many benefits. This included getting to know other disabled artists that were also struggling to become better and better every day.
I have had many satisfactions during the time I´ve been a grantee such as: being able to participate with other artists in radio interviews and televisión; we have been in Voices of America from the Organization Radio Fórmula, in the Program Conversando (Talking), with Cristina Pacheco of channel 11 of the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN), in televisa, participated in exhibitions in various places such as the 5th. Congress of Disabled people held at the Social Security Mexican Institute (IMSS), and in the World Environmental Day.
In the year 2000, my classmates and I participated in a collective exposition that took place together with Mexican artists and it was a success. My family became elated that same day when they learned that my first reproduction of one of my art pieces had been published with much success at the national level.
In 2001, I was invited by the Rotary Club to participate in an exhibition taking place at Expo Altamirano in the state of Guerrero. It was very successful. In 2002 I was invited for a second time to participate in Expo Altamirano, and again, I was able to meet expectations and receive recognition by the entity municipal government in 2003. The municipal government and the DIF of the Coyuca de Catalán Guerrero municipality, offered me a tribute for my trajectory with an exposition in the House of Culture Ezequiel Padilla, and I was interviewed by the governor´s private press in the State of Guerrero.
In 2005, the artists of the Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists met again to participate in an exhibition at the Foro Cultural el Äguila at the Magdalena Contreras Delegation, where we shared career achievements with family and friends.
In 2006, some of the artists were invited by the Secretariat of Economy to exhibit our work receiving very good reviews. One of my greatest challenges was an exposition with my classmates that was held at the Executive Tower of Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX) on October 28, 2007. It was the first time I had organized an exposition by myself. It was a difficult challenge with favorable results.
In January 2008 I was invited by the HSBC Bank to participate in one of their projects for house (DAYA) Dar y Amar (Give and Love) that provides public assistance to single mothers that were less than 11 years of age. This has been one of my most difficult experiences, but also the happiest, since I was able to contribute a part of me to those little girls. Their hearts and innocence touched our souls.
In February of 2008 I will have 10 years as a scholarship grantee with the Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists. I am very grateful to Mr. John Grepe for the opportunity he gave me 10 years ago. In September of 2008 we received the sad news that our director is no longer with us. He was like a father to me and I am grateful for all his life´s teachings and legacy.
“May God bless you John Grepe” for all you gave us; my affection and recognition for your humbleness, thank you.
Currently I continue to work hard to improve myself and continue to reap success, while I thank God and my family that have always been at my side. To my brother Fernando, his wife Reina Mendoza and my nephews Luis Carlos and Omar Andrés, who have offered support and encouragement to always look ahead. A special appreciation goes to my parents who have been with me during the most difficult moments. “May God keep you well for a long time”.
To my family and friends, thank you.