In 1981, Cindi was injured in a fall. This left her a quadriplegic; unable to move from her shoulders down. While in therapy, Cindi was encouraged to learn how to write with her mouth. Using a specially designed adapted pen that she holds between her teeth, she was then able to sign her name the way she desires. Otherwise, Cindi would have to sign her name as an “X” for the rest of her life. This was only the beginning................
In 1991, Cindi became a member of the “Mouth and Foot Painting Artists Inc.” Cindi states, " The Association of Mouth & Foot Painting Artists has given me a purpose and challenge to pursue a talent I didn't know I had, until after my injury." Cindi believes that the MFPA challenges it's artists to move beyond disability and move forward to creativity and individuality. An individuality Cindi felt she didn't have when fist paralyzed. "I was compared to Joni Eareckson Tada" (who is an accomplished author, singer, speaker, and mouth artist) "Which now I accept as a genuine compliment, but at the time I was trying to find my own style and identity!"
Today, Cindi celebrates and revels in many blessings and fond memories of her life in a wheelchair. Some of them below........
In 2002- Cindi was selected as a "Torchbearer" of the Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Torch Rely. She carried the torch in Pasadena Ca. 2/10 ths of a mile on 1-16-02. She was nominated via an essay, submitted by her dear friend Nanc’ Adams unbeknownst to her.
In 2004-Cindi had the honor of presenting Academy Award winning actor Morgan Freeman with her painting. "We had dinner at his restaurant Maddi, in Clarksdale MS. and afterward met him, he’s such a nice man as well as a talented actor." Also in 2004 Cindi made the first commercial for MFPA, it took five hours for a 32nd spot. "I was honored that the Association would ask me to do their very first commercial it was such a long process of makeup wardrobe and a short line I had to rehearse, it was such an awesome experience and I have a greater appreciation now for the process that goes into making a 32nd spot commercial"
In 2005- Cindi received the YWCA "Woman of Achievement Award" for "Artistic Achievement" on June 3rd. This honor was presented to four other outstanding women whom have made the San Gabriel Valley a better community in which to live and work. In December’s 2005 issue of Woman’s World Magazine, there was a write up about Cindi.
Cindi painted a portrait of the legendary blues musician B.B. King and presented it to him to be autographed. "What a thrill to know that BB King has autographed one of my paintings"
2006-The MFPA invited Cindi to New York to participate in a media event for MFPA Which entailed television and radio interviews and a wonderful opportunity to see New York City. "I have never been to New York City and it truly is a bustling noisy metropolis just as it is depicted in the movies. I think the taxi drivers honk their horn just to honk. I am so grateful I was able to visit the Statue of Liberty, Ground Zero, and the Empire State building all in a three day whirlwind visit."
2007- October Cindi's name was included in an article published by USA Today that
featured a story about the MFPA/VDMFK.
*USA TODAY, was at that time, the #1 daily newspaper in the US, with a circulation of 2.3 million. First published in 1982.
2008- The editor & art director of * Johns Hopkins University has asked to use Cindi's photo (one used in MFPA USA circular letter) to grace the cover of their 2nd edition book on Spinal Cord Injury, they have 2 images of guys, one skiing and one a teacher outside with students and they wanted to include a disabled woman.
Johns Hopkins University: For more than a century, is among the smallest of America's great research universities -- has been a world leader in research, education, and patient care. In fields ranging from public health to public policy, music, medicine, engineering, and the humanities, Johns Hopkins is home to some of the world's best minds.
Also in 2008, Cindi had the great fortune to paint another portrait of BB King and have him autograph it.
2008- Cindi was asked to participate in a "Radio Media Tour" Oct. 7th, 8th, and 9th 2008. "This was a 5:30 AM wake up call to do the radio interviews although it was great because I did not have to get out of bed or look beautiful. I was completely exhausted afterward" This was put together by Jim March (Director of MFPA for North America), and Victor Margiotta (Director of MFPA Media Relations UK, London) through NBN National Broadcast Network. The radio show was produced by Katie LaCorte and her assistant and contact person was Shari Smilowitz-Rauch.
2009-Cindi painted musician/activist Tab Benoit’s portrait, for his Voices Of The Wetlands org. charity. During his performance at Cafe Boogaloo he auctioned the portrait, it was purchased for $1,000.
2009 In December, Cindi mailed a painting titled “Rendering Honors” to Ft. Hood Army Base in Texas to pay tribute to the 12 soldiers killed and 31 wounded by an Army psychiatrist. It hangs in the chapel and is a reminder of the atrocity of violence as well as the dedication and honor of our military
2012-painted several watercolors for various charities, one in particular, United by Music which helps disabled people find their talent. She was also interviewed by a Koren radio and television station to promote Nature's Splendor exhibit at Eat Cake Café in Rowland Heights California.
2013-February-Cindi raised $580 selling original Christmas paintings and donated the money to Hurricane Sandy relief via the Lions Club, which she is a member of. Also in February She submitted a sample of her mouth writing to Certified Graphoanalyst, Dena Blatt to use samples of writing to be used in her book titled The Pen Tells for U.S. and international publication and distribution, also published in an e-book and paperback. "The author informed me that it doesn't matter whether it is written by hand or mouth we all have a certain style and there is meaning to everything we write." She also mentioned handwriting analysis is a dying study because most written messages are now text message or electronically typed.
2014-Cindi was given a book she is featured in. A chapter in Msgr. O'Callaghan's book, God What a Life, tells of Msgr. O'Callaghan's respect and privilege it has been knowing Cindi. Unfortunately he died before he saw the final printing of the book. "I never expected to be a part of Msgr. O'Callaghan's book. He was a dear friend of our family's as well as a great man and leader of the Catholic faith. He is greatly missed."
2015-Cindi was invited to participate in an art demonstration and promotional tour for the MFPA with fellow artist Mariam Pare at the KIDS SPACE MUSEUM ( Pasadena California. It was an interactive day with children learning to paint with their mouth and various interviews via the local media. Cindi was interviewed by Channel 4 news and later seen on the evening news by friends and family.
2016-Cindi was invited by program director Joy Lodato of the Brookdale Senior Living Community to speak on Veterans Day, November 11, 2016 to the residents both military veterans and civil residents. Cindi shared her testimony and autographed over 30 prints of her watercolor Crying Eagle. Cindi said "I was deeply moved and honored to be invited to speak on Veterans Day. Some of the residents in their 90's had received the Purple Heart medal as well as Congressional medal of honors."
2020-Cindi continues to find ways to uplift people and causes. During the horrific wildfires of 2020, and COVID-19 Pandimec, Cindi offered 3 paintings for bid on social media, Face Book, to raise funds for her local Fire Dept. $600. was final bid
Cindi credits her ability to accomplish so much because of her faith, family, friends and unending support of her devoted mother Jean, loving boyfriend Mike, Sisters, Lisa & Kim, nieces, Marisa, Kristen, Courtney, Amber, Brittani and nephew Brett. She feels that she has been given an artistic gift, because prior to her accident she never painted. While enjoying the "Gift" God has given her, she hopes to interpret His beauty through her art and inspire those around her.
You can read more about Cindi, by visiting the web page of the MFPA at just click on American Artists and her name, also on Facebook at Cindi Mouth Artist.
Cihdi"s Favorite Scripture
Philippians 4:13 "For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength."
Cindi's Favorite Quotes
"Never Give Up, Never Lose Hope....."
"Smile, others may need a face lift too"
Remember: If you won't stand behind our troops, feel free to stand in front of them!