Trying to use her hands just got too frustrating for one young girl struggling at school during her early years.
Finally in Grade 10 Jenna Wuthrich decided she didn’t really care what others thought about how she got things done and away she went using her mouth to write, keeping up in class the only way she could and best of all developing her art.
Wuthrich has arthrogryposis, a rare disability that limits use of her arms and legs due to under-developed muscles and joint contractures.
“With this condition I had to adapt and the only thing I could use was my mouth,” Wuthrich explained. “It was so much easier to write with the pencil in my mouth rather than trying to work with it between my hands.”
Wuthrich is all grown up now and as her mom posted on Facebook recently, she’s a beautiful, independent woman and her parents are proud of the artist she has become.
“I grew up in an artistic family,” Wuthrich said. “My aunt, Erica Hawkes, is getting to be quite a well-known artist and she’s been to art school and her work was always around me growing up and she had her art published in a children’s book and it was always a lot of fun to read and so I just grew up wanting to do that – make art myself - so I continued to do sketching and painting.”
It wasn’t until 2020 that she really focused on her artwork, she added.
She had a little art shop at that time called Beauty Within Arts in partnership with her another aunt but it closed mid-2021 because of the pandemic and now Wuthrich can be found on her website and Facebook under the same name.
Over the years, Wuthrich said she’s learned more about her culture and has focused some of her pieces on that while also making art that moves her like creatures she sees in nature.
“A lot of my art techniques are self-taught and I just like messing around with the paint until I love the piece,” Wuthrich said.
Most recently, Wuthrich painted three feathers on a drum her mother made for her. A little varnish to protect the paint and the drum will be good to go, she added.
“When I do my art I do research on it first then I do a sketch and then I transfer the sketch to the canvas or the drum, whatever I’m painting on,” Wuthrich said.
During the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Wuthrich went through a hard time financially and was supported by the Salvation Army. She was trying to get her own place together and needed to all the basics, including a bed. When she reached out to the Salvation Army, organizers told her that she could trade her artwork for what she needed and that’s how she was able to get her household in order.
“They were really awesome and helped me out a lot,” Wuthrich said.
Her landscape painting can now be seen on the wall above the cashier’s counter at the Salvation Army Curt Garland Support Centre Thrift Store.
Wuthrich said as she looks to the future she'd like to be take more chances to showcase her work in public and says a space at the downtown Farmers’ Market would do the trick.
“People seem to like to watch me paint by mouth so I could do that at the Farmers’ Market,” Wuthrich said.
But only when the weather is warmer so her stuff doesn’t blow all over the place.
For a few weeks now Wuthrich has joined the UHNBC Drummers Group on Monday nights as they drum at the hospital to honour healthcare workers adn patients during the pandemic.
“The drumming is very healing and very therapeutic for me,” Wuthrich said.