Mouth & Foot Painting Artists
The roots of the MFPA go back to 1956, when Arnulf Erich Stegmann, a polio-stricken mouth painter, gathered a small group of disabled artists from eight European countries. Their ultimate goal was to make their living through their artistic efforts, and to obtain a sense of work security that until then had eluded them.
Coupling his creative abilities with business acumen, Stegmann established the MFPA as a co-operative organisation that reproduces its artists' work mainly in the form of cards, calendars and books.
From the small group he gathered for the inaugural meeting of the Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists, the group has now grown to represent nearly 750 members, from over 70 countries around the world.
One of the main themes of Stegmann’s credo was that the MFPA must never be regarded as a charity simply because its members are disabled. To Stegmann, the word “charity” was as abhorrent as the word “pity.” The Association maintains that it is not a charity and does not qualify for charitable assistance.
TO THIS DAY, THE MFPA’S MOTTO WORLDWIDE REMAINS
“Self Help – Not Charity.”
ASSOCIATION OF MOUTH & FOOT PAINTING ARTISTS THROUGHOUT THE WORLD
The Association was founded in 1956 in Liechtenstein, Switzerland by a group of Swiss and German artists, all of whom painted without the use of their hands. Through this Association, the artists discovered they could promote and sell their works commercially. Not only would they be able to reach a wider international public, they could also provide a wider range of designs through contact with mouth and foot artists in other countries. The Association becomes an extended international family which ensures their artistic development, a large degree of financial independence and self-fulfilment. It acts as a promotional and marketing vehicle for the artists' paintings which are reproduced as greeting cards, calendars and other artworks.
The Founder and First President of the Association was Professor A. E. Stegmann who was a mouth painter himself. The Second President was Madam Marlyse Tovae from France, a foot painter who held the post from 1985 to 2001. The Third President was Mr Eros Bonamini, a mouth painter from Italy.
The Fourth and current President is Serge Maudet from France. Born in 1954, he is a mouth painter. His hands and legs have been paralysed since birth. As a child, he painted the things that he could not do and that became the tool for expressing his feelings. He has taken part in many exhibitions and in addition, he teaches various courses, aimed at those people who want to embark on the adventure of painting.
Currently, there are over 750 mouth or foot painting artists in 70 countries all over the world. The AMFPA is one of the most consistent models of a cultural self-help to this day and age.
The Mouth and Foot Painting Artists (MFPA) is an international organization, controlled by its artist members, whose purpose is to:
-Make contact with artists who have lost the use of their hands through birth defect, accident or illness and now paint with their mouths or feet.
-Make contact with disabled people who would like to learn to paint and support themselves in this capacity.
-Offer moral and financial assistance to the disabled that are interested in becoming students, and offer students financial, practical and creative support to become fully developed artists and members of the Association.
-Tend to the interests of the artists by facilitating the sale of their work, primarily in the form of reproductions as greeting cards, calendars and etc.
-Publish material that communicates and supports the purpose of the organisation.
-Assist disabled artists in the attainment of self-respect, creative fulfillment and financial security.
The Malaysian office was formed in 1974. The company was formed for the sole purpose of assisting the local mouth and foot artists in collaboration with its headquarters for the promotion of their artistic works.
In Malaysia the contribution of the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists Association was also recognised in 1991 when it received the Rotary’s ‘Pride in Workmanship’ award. An article about the MFPA Association was published in the Primary Four Moral school text book by the Ministry of Education to educate the school children. An exhibition was also held in 1995. It was sponsored by Petronas and held at the Petronas Gallery which was officiated by YABhg Dato' Seri Dr. Siti Hasmah Bte Hj Mohd Ali.
MFPA organise yearly programmes to mail and sell greeting cards just before Christmas, Chinese New Year and Hari Raya to members of the public. The greeting cards are reproductions of works by these mouth and foot artists. The mailing is part of an awareness campaign to allow members of the public to get to know about the artists and their works.
Who Can Join?
Any person who has lost the use of his or her hands and paints using the mouth or the foot to grasp the brush has the potential to become a member of the Association. They must submit six paintings that they have produced and a medical certificate stating that they are unable to hold a paint brush in their hands.
They must also submit two photographs of themselves and a short biography. All the materials will be sent to the Association's headquarters in Switzerland for evaluation. If the board members think that they have the potential to be trained as artists, they will be accepted as student members.
A monthly allowance will be given to pay for their tuition and art materials. Hence, parents with children who cannot use their hands are urged to encourage their children to draw and paint from very young. You never know when they may develop artistic talent. If they do, then we are here to help.