Born with no arms, artist Swapna Augustine can nevertheless paint stunning portraits – using her feet to hold her brush.
The 42-year-old, from Kerala, India, makes a living from selling her artworks.
And the inspirational foot artist has spent her life refusing to be defined by her disability or allow it to come in the way of following her passions.
‘Handicap is a state of mind. I do not want to lose out on living my life due to unavoidable shortcomings,’ says Swapna.
When Swapna’s mum Sophie was pregnant, her dad, Augustine, dreamt his wife would deliver a baby without arms, who would go on to bring glory to the family’s name. Three months later when she was born, the parents aptly named the baby Swapna – meaning a dream in Malayalam, their mother tongue.
As a 4-year-old Swapna attended nursery and learnt to write the alphabet in sand using her feet, under the guidance of her teacher. She went on to attend high school and college, before joining the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists Association (MFPA), an international society for disabled artists.
Swapna has exhibited her work widely as well as selling her paintings to both local and international clients. Mum Sophie says: ‘When my daughter’s paintings are exhibited, it’s such a proud moment for me as a parent. I have seen her fight through physical hardships to achieve her dreams.’
The armless artist has won a number of awards and accolades over the years for her artistic works and social activities. She regularly speaks to physically challenged students and inspires them to overcome their handicap using creativity, running creative workshops where the group produces material to sell at local exhibitions.
Over the next few years, Swapna aims to create an autobiographical painting that narrates her story and celebrates her parents, family and friends, who supported her throughout her artistic journey.