Photographer: Jessica Pierotti
Mariam was a talented art student, and at the age of 20 her journey
was diverted. While driving, Mariam was caught in the crossfire of
gang violence and shot. Now a quadriplegic, unable to walk and with
significant loss of function in her upper extremities, Mariam’s dreams
A therapist taught Mariam to hold a pencil in her mouth and write.
Soon Mariam began teaching herself to paint using her mouth. Art
once again became her outlet, focus, and saving grace. The joy of
doing what she loved pushed her and revitalized her sense of purpose.
Mariam finished a BFA in Graphic Design and Web Design. With
the support of the Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists,
her paintings are exhibited internationally. She is a member of
the Associate Board of the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and
promotes awareness of benefits of art therapy. In 2012, Mariam
founded STEAM Studios, an organization providing arts education to
under-served communities. Sixteen years after her injury, Mariam is
living her dream as a professional artist and designer.