María Alejandra NAVA NERI
Birthplace: Toltepec, Toluca, México
scholarship holder of AMFPA since: 2005
Painting Method: Mouth painter
“Thanks to life that has given me so much”
I was born on March 4, 1975 in Toltepec, Toluca, Edo de Mexico.
Even though my parents were totally disheartened by my physical state, they took me to a hospital in Toluca that specializes in cases like mine. Unfortunately, after many tests and studies, the doctors told my parents that there was no hope possible that my limbs would develop normally, since I was born with this condition. Given this diagnosis, they decided never to take me there again.
As time went by and I turned 4, my parents took me to another specialized hospital in the city of Mexico and the opinions of the doctors were once again, not promising. Nevertheless, they said that a radical surgery was a possibility. This implied the amputation of my arms up to the shoulders and my legs up to the hips.
The idea was that I could use metal prostheses devices to use as arms with prenhensile hooks that would allow me to grasp and hold things and, for my legs, they could not provide any solution for now.
My mother recounts that even at my young age, I knew perfectly how drastic that treatment was, and that I would ask her crying if she was capable of allowing them to do this surgery on me. This is what touched my parents´ emotions and they both decided to get me out of the hospital. From that time forward, I never again received any medical treatment.
From that moment on, I felt happy to use my mouth instead of my hands and this made me feel useful. I could write and draw, I could illuminate little houses and trees which my life more bearable. Finally one day when I was 12 years old, some nuns that somehow had learned about my case, went to see me to ask my parents how they could help. It was then when they donated a wheelchair for my use. I was so happy! From that moment on I was able to go out to the street and see the world that existed outside of my home.
Little by little I started realizing that I was a valuable person and there were many things I could do by myself. I used my mouth instead of as my hands. I could not only eat and talk with it but also sew, sew buttons, do hems on skirts or trousers and, the greatest activities I could do, were to sketch and write. On one occasion I attempted to produce a drawing on bristol paper, and I did. It was a pink panther with its cowboy hat. Since it came out pretty good, I went out to try to sell it. One of my brothers helped me and took me out in the wheelchair. In front of a house, a man showed interest in my drawing, and when he learned I had done it with my mouth he congratulated me and offered his help for me to take painting classes. I was delighted to accept!
This is how I met my first teacher, Saúl Ramírez! For a few months he taught me how to produce oil paintings, the technical bases and perspective. At the beginning of 2003, I met a teacher named Angélica who gave me classes in fabric painting and also introduced me to a nice lady, Verónica González, who became truly interested in me. Through her I met Mrs. Luz María Hernández who put me in contact with the Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists.
On July 29, 2004 I interviewed with Mr. John Grepe from that wonderful Association, I handed him my application together with my first paintings. At the beginning of 2005 I received the most awaited response: I was a scholarship grantee!
Now my life is totally different. My days are brilliant and I spend hours and hours practicing to improve the quality of my paintings. The stipend that I receive is a great incentive and makes me feel as productive as any other adult.
God bless this beautiful Association! And thanks to life that has given me so much.