Anyone who has gone through their child’s artwork knows how difficult it is to narrow down the pieces worthy of display on the refrigerator door. Kate March feels the same way when selecting art each year for a collection of prints, greeting cards and calendars for the Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists (MFPA).
March represents 66 adaptive artists as a national artist counselor of the association, which is headquartered in Europe. As she connects with mouth and foot artists, she continues the 66-year tradition of the international MFPA to create a partnership of painters who are unable to use their hands but have adapted to make a living using their talent.
The profits generated by the MFPA come through the sale of reproduced products that are sent out twice a year in the mail with the option to purchase. This October, MFPA USA will be sending their Christmas and Holiday package, containing holiday greeting cards and a yearly desk calendar. All the items they offer are reproduced from the stunning artwork painstakingly produced by 800 artists worldwide.
“All of our artists have painting as their life’s work. This is what drives then and they are constantly committed to excel in their artwork,” March said.
From her office in Atlanta, March advocates for artists such as Mariam Paré, a quadriplegic mouth-painter who discovered she could continue her love of painting after attempting to sign her name with her mouth. She now paints in a variety of mediums including acrylic and oil as an associate member of MFPA. Mouth-painter Keith Jansz best described the power of painting, “I love to feel the brush dance across the canvas and give back to me the sensation of movement which my body now lacks.”
MFPA encourages artists to use the organization as a platform to become professional artists. MFPA’s motto “self-help, not charity” displays pride in becoming artists recognized for their talent rather than their disability. “MFPA not only provides financial support but the ability to work within the community and contribute,” March said. ‘The association is not a charity, but bolsters individuals to do what they love. A world without beauty is a world without hope, and I am reminded of that hope every day in the stories and visionary works of the amazing artists of the worldwide MFPA.”
The criteria for acceptance into the association is equal, if not more rigorous, than any other arena for contemporary commercial artists. Paintings are judged by an artistic jury including other mouth and foot painting artists who keep standards high. While they believe all art is a beautiful display of self-expression, jaws should drop when it’s revealed that MFPA paintings have been painted with adaptive techniques.
Full and associate members of MFPA receive a regular salary that can help them move away from government assistance, while students members receive a monthly stipend to cover art supplies, tuition and assistance. The financial support from MFPA allows the artists to enjoy a sense of work security and put their canvas front and center in their lives to produce even better quality work.
“It is an honor and a privilege to work for the artists of MFPA USA. I am humbled that they trust in me to give their extraordinary work the deference it so truly deserves,” March said. “As I review the hundreds of paintings from all over the world, I am made acutely aware of the transformative healing power of art.”
For more information, visit mfpausa.com.