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Jose Gerardo Aguayo

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DOB:16th March 1963
Place of Birth:Dolores Hidalgo
Painting Style:Foot Painter
Member of MFPA since:    1995
Nationality:Mexico

I was born in the City de Dolores Hidalgo, State of Guanajuato, on March 16, 1963. I am the son of Juan Manuel Uribe Luna and Rosa Maria Aguayo Medina. I was born without arms and with an evident deformity in my legs. My family thought that this was probably due to some medication that my mother took during her pregnancy.I am the fifth born of a total of eight siblings – four girls and three boys. All my siblings have had a normal life like everyone, with no developmental difficulties. In this sense, I am special within my family unit. At the beginning, other children would look at me with a lot of curiosity, but eventually, they would accept me the way I was and we would play together. My role in the games was one of leadership: I would give instructions so they could engage in the playful activities that I would have liked to participate in, but couldn't.
Since the beginning, my parents thought that I would not be able to live normally; they thought I would not be able to walk, eat or move independently. They probably thought I would be a constant burden. My parents, brothers and sisters had to transport me everywhere, especially due to the fact that I had difficulty balancing myself given the uneven length of my legs which prevented me from walking upright. When I was almost four my grandmother would hold me and help me to walk the same way you train babies. Later, my father´s brother, uncle Luis, got me a walker and taught me how to use it by myself rolling the wheels. At six, I was able to walk without any help. Nevertheless, my balance was not stable and I would fall constantly.
The same way that no one trusted that I could walk, they also thought I would not be able to write or go to school. Nevertheless, my father taught me to hold the pencil with my left foot, which allowed me to write letters and draw since I was 5. One day, close to 6 p.m., we were visited by professor Alfonso Morales Villegas, director of the school Josefa Ortiz de Dominguez, who was so impressed to see me drawing that he suggested to my parents to take me to school. The first day of classes, my teacher, Eusebio Guerrero, refused to receive me, feeling fearful that the other kids would make fun of me. The director later convinced him to accept me and the result was that my classmates always treated me with respect and would ask me about my condition. During recess I could not go out and play because there was no one to take care of me. My brother, Juan Manuel, was two grades above me in the same school. He was very mischievous and he would put me on the stroller that we used for my transportation to school, and would run very fast pushing the stroller around the school grounds. Since my brothers would not help me, I felt the need to do everything by myself. I think life is difficult when one has few elements to use for self development or too many barriers, especially when a physical limitation prevents you from doing certain things. The best policy is to liberate you from the help of others as much as possible, with no special or temporary dependencies.
When I finished grade school I was taken to the Mexican Institute of Rehabilitation, in the City of Mexico, where I was for two years. This happened because the wife of the governor of Guanajuato (1975) became interested in my case and offered to pay for two mechanical arms. In the Mexican Institute I was treated by a group of doctors, psychologists and social workers and they put me in contact with other disabled children and adults. Although I must mention that until this time, I did not have a clear understanding of my situation since I felt the same as other people. It wasn’t until I was asked during an evaluation therapy session, that everything was revealed in my mind: "do you feel strange and different when you look into the mirror?" My response was "of course not!" I had felt that all the experiences I had gone thru with my family and my own image were natural. So after some tests they decided to go ahead with the mechanical arms. I thought, mistakenly, that they would graft the arms permanently through surgery. This was my fear. However, I was relieved when I was informed that the arms could be removed at will since they were adapted to a special vest. Knowing this calmed me down. In a sense, a person should protect themselves from the world, to avoid that feeling of physical limitation or lack of confidence. During those times it is fundamental to have contact with our family, with friends, intelligent and reasonable people with ample criteria, especially those that don't believe that a disability is an obstacle for a social coexistence.
During the time I was at the Institute I drew a wagon with my feet that was later exhibited in the Psychology clinic. The social workers tried for me to draw or paint with my mechanical arms, but that was not possible due to their lack of flexibility for tracing. This is why I continued drawing with my feet. I used those artificial arms during the two years I was in Mexico City. However, I could do almost everything without the help of the mechanical arms. The problem really was that I could not take care of my personal hygiene or dress myself with those arms; so they did not serve the purpose of helping me on a daily basis. Also, they were heavy and uncomfortable and they limited my mobility and vital space. For all these reasons, I decided not to use them and liberate myself from them.
I later entered the Secondary Technical School No. 1, in Dolores Hidalgo. I was so excited and happy to leave the Rehabilitation Institute. During the second year, I received the prize for the best spelling in the school. During this period I dedicated time to copy designs and imprints and to develop my knowledge in watercolors at the gobelinos workshop. The subjects I mostly liked were artistic education, physics, chemistry and Spanish. At that time I was very conscious about my physical state. I came to this realization in the city of Mexico when I was confronted, for the first time, to other people in similar situations to mine. This led me, during that school period, to question philosophical issues: destiny, the reasons for existence, limitations of being, and the infinite. Even though they were not formulated in the appropriate philosophical and theoretical terms, nevertheless, those questions impelled me to the study of Philosophy.
With the firm purpose of studying philosophy at the University, I went on to preparatory school for 3 years and I studied typing, a subject that proofed very useful afterwards with the computer. After passing the admission exams for the School of Philosophy and Arts, I had to resolve the transportation issue to Guanajuato where the University was located, and I had no money or travel experience. This involved leaving my family and their help which was vital to me at that time. Anyway, with the help of family, friends and school classmates, I attended classes at the School of Philosophy from 1983 to 1987. In the mornings I would go to drawing classes with teacher Jorge Rocha at the House of Culture, and in the afternoons I would go to philosophy classes at the University in Guanajuato. The most important values for me are family and friends. Rendering yourself to your being is fundamental; sharing time with others, your uneasiness, happiness and things. For four long years of economic scarcity, with no money to eat or buy books that I needed to study, not having enough materials for my artistic development, living with friends that provided free lodging, I was able to finish my university career. At the end of my studies I wrote my graduating thesis titled: "Compositional Elements in Art", where I outline the basis of an esthetic analysis of painting and its fundamental components, which I have taken to practice in my work. At the conclusion of my studies in Philosophy in 1987, the President of Mexico, Miguel de la Madrid, handed me the National Youth Award in the Los Pinos residence in the City of Mexico.
That same year I transferred to San Miguel de Allende to study drawing of the human body with teacher Jorge Vazquez in the Fine Arts Institute "El Nigromante". The following year I returned to Guanajuato to the School of Plastic Arts (Escuela de Artes Plasticas) with teacher Patricia Van Vloten, where I learned oil techniques, encaustic painting and distemper art.In 1988 I found myself teaching classes in Philosophy, Psychology and artistic drawing among others, while I was going thru difficult financial times. So I only concentrated on drawing, after learning about the Painters Association from Mr. Demetrio Herrera Olivares. He suggested concentrating totally on drawing with the intention of applying as a student to the Painters Association. So I sent my best work to the Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists. So, in 1990 I was accepted as a scholarship grantee of the Association, which allowed me to break away from some of my binding income producing activities that I had. This is how I was able to concentrate more of my time to plastic arts. In the meantime, I continued participating in exhibitions in the City of Guanajuato and in Dolores Hidalgo. This earned me a personal congratulation from the Rector of the University of Guanajuato for my outstanding participation during a collective student exhibition in 1991. Because of the scholarship granted by the Association, my journey in learning the arts was shortened and I had less obstacles. I participated in other workshops that taught techniques with teachers Luis Nishizawa, Douglas Dawson and Nicolas Moreno in Guanajuato in 1992.
With a more intense dedication, I was able to develop various techniques while attending courses in Madrid, Spain, and I was able to stay in that country thanks to the support of the Association. The next year (1993) I transferred to Madrid with the help of my cousin Alejandro, where I studied free workshops on Physiology in Movement in the Faculty of Fine Arts at the Complutense University, where I also directed workshops on still objects and nudity in the Fine Arts Circle.In respect to painting and the history and theory of Art, I've learned these subjects by reading books, magazines, visiting various museums in Mexico as well as in other countries in the world.
I've dedicated more than 20 years to painting, even though my practical experience in drawing happened much before. Likewise, the conditions to materialize what we wish should be recreated by us. For example: I prefer to travel independently, even if it gets more complicated. Besides, I cannot wait on others to do a painting. What is important is to accomplish what we want without waiting for someone else to do it for us. The most important thing that the world offers us is culture, the knowledge of what is done and how life is in other geographic areas. Somehow music, literature and philosophy prevent me from immersing myself in daily problems. Culture helps to forget suffering. Since then, I've attempted to create works with my own style and a more accentuated esthetic value. Since March 1991 I have been considered an associate member. Because of this, I have been able to obtain an ampler capacity for pictorial and personal action, and for which I am profoundly grateful to the Association. This backing has been in different aspects and crucial for my way of life and the direction of my existence.
Paintings of Jose Gerardo Aguayo
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