Ruth Christensen, prominent member of the Mund-og Fodmalende Kunstnere (MFK), the Danish arm of the Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists (AMFPA), knows how to gain strength through a struggle. Life hasn’t been easy for Ruth Christensen, but her determination and her love of painting has helped her through life’s challenges and today she is an accomplished artist.
Ruth was born in 1929 at Lynge, Nordsjällan and with a large family of four sisters and a brother, life was very cheerful. Even at an early age, she knew what she wanted, to become an artist. Then one day shortly after her eleventh birthday she was riding her bike across a level crossing and was hit by a train. Her only memory was coming round in hospital to discover she had lost both arms from below the elbow.
Ruth comments, “You can imagine what impact this had on our family, so when I left hospital I was determined to get back to as normal life as possible. I really strove to manage with everyday things and gradually I began to succeed. I used my mouth to dress my doll and tried to write holding a pen in my teeth, which was far from easy.”
The family support allowed Ruth to continue her studies at her school. Her father even made her an appliance which attached to her upper arms and enabled her to use a fork so she could eat independently. At first it was a struggle, but Ruth was determined to succeed.
Today, Ruth is a member of the international AMFPA board of directors and plays an instrumental role in shaping the organisation’s future. In 2010, Ruth had the honour of presenting HRH, Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, GCVO with the MFPA’s recently-published book “Art for Life” at an exhibition of UK artists’ work which was displayed in The Great Hall at Winchester in the United Kingdom. The book details the lives of each of the UK’s 36 artists and tells the inspiring stories of how they became artists.
The Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists is a wholly owned, international self-help organisation of seriously disabled artists who take pride in earning their own living by painting with a paint brush held in their mouth or between their toes. A panel of senior AMFPA artists select from the collection of painted images created by Danish artists and their fellow artists from around the world. These chosen images are then reproduced and sold to the general public as cards and calendars, benefitting the AMFPA’s more than 800 artists in over 75 countries worldwide.