No one ever thinks that one day they are going to become a quadriplegic mouth-painter. Mariam Fatima Paré was born in Kenitra Morocco. Her father, a Marine Sargent was stationed in Morocco after the Vietnam War to work at the American Embassy and her mother was from near Tangier Morocco. They came to live in the United States when she was very young.
Mariam Fatima Paré loved to paint ever since she was a little girl. She dreamed of a career making art and became an aspiring and talented college-level art student. But tragically her dreams seemed dashed when in 1996, at the age of 20, she became the unfortunate victim of a ricochet bullet from a gun fight nearby.
For the rest of her life Mariam would be a quadriplegic; permanently unable to walk and with significant loss of function in her upper extremities. But this amazing determined young women did not stop pursuing her love of art. After years of rehabilitation she learned how to use her mouth to paint and became what she was always destined to be, an incredible artist.
So began a new life. Mariam embarked on a long period of rehabilitation; months and years of slowly and painfully relearning to do everyday activities she had previously taken for granted. She learned to get around using a wheelchair. She learned new ways of holding things with fingers that did not move. She learned to use her mouth for tasks that required a tight grip or precision in her movements... among many, many other challenges. At the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, a therapist taught Mariam to hold a pencil in her mouth to write her name. This single lesson exposed Mariam to a new possible way of painting. If she could control a pencil in this way, then why not a paintbrush? With earnest determination, she soon began teaching herself again how to paint using her mouth.
Eighteen years after her violent injury, painting by mouth has become second nature for Mariam, who now proudly possesses painting skills tantamount to that of any able-bodied counterpart. She exhibits her work in galleries both nationally and locally as well as in numerous private collections. She works prolifically from her home studio in suburban Chicago producing exceptional artwork in traditional oil and modern mixed media techniques.