Of course, there are lots of gifted artists around the world, but maybe not so many that have had the hard start that Inocente had to endure.
She was born in Mexico, along with her three brothers. Her father decided to take her and one of her brothers across the border illegally to San Diego. It took her mother, Carmela, over a year to catch up with her husband and children.
Life was hard and Inocente’s father was an abusive man. After one particularly violent attack on his wife and daughter, the police were called and he was deported back to Mexico.
After he had gone, Carmela tried to keep the family going, but it was too hard. They all found themselves homeless and moved around from shelter to shelter for years. Inocente, along with her brothers, joined the ranks of the 1.5 million homeless children in the USA.
At one point, Carmela became so desperate that she took all her children to a bridge and wanted to jump off with them all. Inocente pleaded with her mother not to do it and so they went back to living in shelters.
To try and escape her life, Inocente would visit the various art centres around her area that had been set up for homeless children. She loved to paint on canvases, as well as paint beautiful designs on her own face, and she would wear colorful and fun clothing, including a pink tutu. Inocente was a walking piece of art!
She was also attending school, but always felt different from the other children because she was homeless, and they were often unkind to her.
Then something amazing happened to Inocente when she was 15 years old. She became the subject of a documentary that would change her life. The film makers wanted to follow a homeless gifted artist to see how she lived and coped with her situation.
They did, and the film won them an Oscar at the Academy Awards this year. But it also changed the lives of Inocente and her family. Her art work started selling, and now at the age of 19 years old, Inocente lives in her own apartment and her mother and brothers live in their own apartment nearby.
She still obviously paints, but also visits other art centres for the homeless to tell them of her success, and hopefully to inspire them to the fact that good things can happen. She has had an exhibition of her work at the Tribeca Grand Hotel in New York, and I am sure there will be a lot more.
Inocente does not feel the need to paint her face any longer; all her painting goes on to her canvases. She once said, ”I have a lot of impossible dreams, but I still dream them”.
Well, it seems to me that nothing will be impossible for young Inocente in the years to come!
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