Disability doesn't hinder Mississippi artist - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Disability doesn't hinder Mississippi artist

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By Cheryl Lasseter - bio | email | twitter

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - 36-year-old William Heard has just enough dexterity to grip a Styrofoam ball attached to a plastic spoon.

"I love Jackson Pollock and the way he dripped using a paint brush," Heard says as he demonstrates his technique. "This is how I started painting. Using a spoon. I couldn't really hold a paint brush that well. I thought about what could I use to drip paint."

Using simple tools and some self-taught techniques, he creates canvas after canvas of vibrant artwork.

"I had surgery on my wrist where I can move my thumb in and out, but I can't move my fingers. I'm a quadriplegic," he says. "You never know what's going to happen in life. In an instant, things can change."

Back in 2000, Heard was a medic in the National Guard, even helping with people with spinal cord injuries, when he was involved in a car wreck that broke his C5 and C6 vertebrae. The injury left him paralyzed. "I basically had to start all over again. I was reborn from my car accident," he says.

That's why he likes to paint butterflies, a symbol of rebirth. One of his butterfly paintings hung in the U.S. Capitol during President Obama's inauguration.

Heard is currently a board member of L.I.F.E., or Living Independently for Everyone, in Jackson. But his studio is in Tupelo.

"I started Our Artwork. It's an art class for people with spinal cord or traumatic brain injuries. We meet several times a month," he says.

And if art reflects life, Heard hopes his zest for creativity will rub off on others who are disabled and need inspiration. "Our house is our safe zone. We feel safe there, but we really need to get into the community, get back in it, become more a part of it," he says.

Heard also visits Mississippi schools to share his artwork with students. Click here to learn more about the artist.  

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