Afghan girl paints with prosthetic arm after losing hers to explosive
By John Rogers, AP
April 4, 2014, 12:10 am TWN
BEVERLY HILLS, California--The doctors and therapists who worked with a little girl from Afghanistan knew the prosthetic arm they gave her would change her life.
What they didn't anticipate was that within weeks of strapping on her new limb, 7-year-old Shah Bibi Tarakhail would be using it to pick up a brush and begin carving out a new life — of abstract painting.
"What color would you like?" asked artist Davyd Whaley as he sat next to her at a table at the Galerie Michael on Rodeo Drive in the heart of Beverly Hills on Wednesday afternoon.
"That one!" the normally reticent girl responded with a determined voice as she pointed to a tube of blue acrylic. Then, before her mentor could fetch it, she grabbed it with her new prosthetic hand, unscrewed the top with her other hand and began squeezing the tube's contents onto a palette.
As her friends from the nonprofit Children of War Foundation and the Shriners Hospital for Children Los Angeles looked on with delight, Shah Bibi proceeded to put a series of broad brush strokes across a piece of art board Whaley had provided. Soon there were shades of blue, green and bright orange laid out across little stickers of fish, bunnies, a flower and sky that Whaley had showed her how to place on the board beforehand.
At one point she giggled with embarrassment as she accidentally squeezed a tube of orange paint onto the painting rather than the pallete. But Whaley quickly assured her that accidental art sometimes makes the best abstract art.
"You're going to do a Jackson Pollock," he quipped.
The finished result, the artist said afterward, "was pretty mind-blowing."
Shah Bibi, he said, not only handles a brush well but has an impressive grasp of matching colors.
"She kind of has a facility for it if she wants to pursue it," added the artist whose own work is the subject of a large exhibition on display at Galerie Michael.
Less than a year ago, Shah Bibi was back at home in Afghanistan when she went outside one morning to play with her brother. There had been a violent battle pitting Taliban fighters against U.S. military forces the night before, but that was nothing residents weren't used to. Their village had been a cauldron of violence since the Afghan war began.