I was born with a condition called Amyoplasia which is the most common form of Arthrogryposis. Amyoplasia affects every 1 out of 10,000 live births. Arthrogryposis is derived from a Greek word meaning "curving of joints". With this condition, children are born with joint contractures in two or more areas of the body along with missing muscles. This is a noncongenital condition, meaning, it does not get worse throughout the individual's lifetime.
Like many other children born with noticeable limitations, I've had many challenges that have allowed me to persevere and become an independent woman. I owe a lot of my strength and determination to my parents. At the time I was born in Austin Texas, not much was known about my condition. In fact, my parents were informed by the hospital, that they knew of only three other cases similar to mine. My parents embraced my differences and taught me how everyone is faced with challenges in life, whether they are noticeable or not, present at birth, or occur sometime later in life. We are all different and unique.
Using what you've got
I remember trying to hold a pencil in class like my classmates. I would lean the pencil against my middle finger and straddle it between my index and ring finger. It looked pretty close to how my classmates were holding their pencils, (at least from my perspective), however, there was one problem. I was unable to grasp the pencil like my classmates to put the necessary pressure on the pencil. I remember my first-grade teacher pulling my mom to the side and sharing how she just couldn't make out the faint writing on the paper. I felt shocked to hear her say she couldn't read my writing. I could read it with no problem. This may have been one of the first instances in which I decided to prove others wrong. She and everyone else WOULD see my writing. I honestly don't remember when I came up with the idea, but somehow I discovered that I could use my chin to put the necessary pressure on the pencil. With the assistance of my left arm, I could lock the pencil in the perfect position as I wrote with my peers.
Hence, as I drew, I continued to use the assistance of my chin. Therefore, I commonly refer to my artwork as "Chin Drawn" instead of the standard "Hand Drawn". Using my chin, limited the amount of space I could work with. As a true artist, there were many times I didn't know when to stop working on my masterpiece. Therefore, I became very good at detailed work.
Before starting school, my drawings were done with me sitting on the floor with both hands surrounding the pencil and my legs straddling my arms. I would use a side to side motion to help me move the pencil around on the paper, and my stomach to add pressure to the pencil. Mom, however (and rightfully so) disliked the idea of me being older one day and writing on the floor while my peers sat above me in tables. She discouraged this method of writing each and everytime she could. I can't tell you how many arguments and tears were shed over this, but I'm so thankful today for her determination in getting me to write on the table.
Art has always seemed to come naturally for me. Many have wondered if the different Persian artifacts around the house or the creative abilities of family members had an impact on my work. Maybe they have. According to my parents, when they brought me home for the first time, my eyes wandered around the house looking at all the shapes and colors surrounding me. If you ask my mom, she'd tell you that my eyes were larger than my face.
I used to struggle with answering the question, "what inspires you?" After looking at the most recurrent theme in most of my pieces, and finding my self always wanting to draw and paint after taking a walk outside, I now know it's nature.
Throughout the years, my artwork has evolved. With each year and piece, my style seems to change. I've always been proud of my pieces. Around my elementary school days, I would get excited about family garage sales and would spend the night before up drawing piece after piece to sell the next day. Of course, little did I know, that people didn't come to garage sells to buy pencil drawings from a little child. I was so eager to share my ability and creativity with others. In middle school, classmates would say my artwork was "Good", but to me, it was so much better. In an attempt to prove my artwork as being better than "Good", I drew two designs to be made into notecards in one night. The next day, I came to school ready with a printed sheet of paper in a folder to take orders. Little did I know, that this would be the beginning of making and selling notecards in craft shows. I was very fortunate to have such supporting teachers and friends that year.
Each creation is a part of me. I often wonder if they are images from another place, perhaps where we were before becoming into our current existence. Many pieces start with me drawing with no mental image of the final design. I've had many people touched by my creations in different ways and feel that my work should continue to be shared. My artwork is meant to inspire, it's meant to be enjoyed, it's meant to share beauty.
Thank you for taking time to explore and enjoying my work.