"Do what you love. Love what you do.
We have everything we need inside to be happy." – WFH
A Little About Me...
Date of Birth: 2.12.1975
Date of Re-Birth: 3.14.2000
Residence: Tupelo, MS
After graduating from Tupelo High School
in 1994, I was off to basic training in the Army National Guard as
a Medical Specialist.
In 1996, I enrolled at Mississippi State University, majoring in Business
in Furniture Productions.
On March 14, 2000, I was thrown from an automobile in an accident
near Tupelo, Mississippi. Two vertebrae in my neck were broken and
after three long months in ICU at the NEMMC (Northeast Mississippi
Medical Center) in Tupelo, the injury was stabilized, and I was transferred
to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta to begin my rehabilitation as a
quadriplegic. At that time I had no idea where my life was going or
if I could make any contribution to society.
At The Shepherd Center, over many months, I was weaned off of a tracheal
ventilator and was dependent on others for every move I made. Over
the next 2 years I had to re-teach myself to become an independent
person in all aspect of life, strengthening mentally and physically,
working with therapists. In art therapy I found a new love for paint.
As a teenager, I had spray-painted the baskets and children's furniture
my mother decorated and sold at her store, but I had never used an
artist's brush. At Shepherd, I learned to tuck the brush into a cuff,
held loosely in my palm. Although thrilled by the experience, my frustration
at being unable to steady the brush grew and eventually I stopped
painting and sank into a depression that lasted two years.
My passion was revived when I watched "Pollock," the film about painter
Jackson Pollock. Pollock's famous "drip" technique was something I
thought I could do, and it inspired me to have an operation on the
tendons in my wrist to restore the use of my right hand.
I experimented with various methods of delivering paint to canvas
until I tried sticking a plastic spoon into a Styrofoam ball. Gripping
the ball enabled me to dip the spoon into cups of paint and then drizzle
it onto the canvas with the kind of control that had eluded me before.
Many months of experimentation led to the discovery of new methods,
like pouring different colors into one cup to produce multi-colored
streams of color at once. For me, "The colors exploded." I became
an Artist living independently. I knew then, that everything is Possible!
In 2004, I moved to Starkville and re-enrolled at Mississippi State
University to complete my final 18 hours, graduating with a degree
in General Business in Furniture Production.
After moving back to Tupelo I became involved in L.I.F.E., a state
wide non-profit organization that is dedicated to the Empowerment
of people with significant disabilities to be as independent and fully
involved in their communities.
My colorful, exuberant style has led to shows at galleries and festivals
in Charlotte, N.C., Seaside, Florida, New Orleans, Tupelo and Jackson,
and many paintings in private collections and museums as well. I have
painted everything from abstracts to nudes to homes to cityscapes,
but butterflies became my trademark. The butterfly was the image that
first came to me. It's got all the colors, and it's a symbol of rebirth.
- Volunteer and peer supporter for injury patients in
- State board member for the LIFE of Mississippi (Living
Independence for Everyone) organization at the head office in Jackson,
and the President of the board at the Tupelo chapter that represents
20 surrounding counties.
- Through L.I.F.E my disability and art, I had the opportunity
to start a non-profit organization for people with spinal cord injuries
and traumatic brain injuries from a grant received by Mississippi Rehabilitation
Services of the Spinal Cord Trust Fund of Mississippi. Named, "Our Artworks",
we teach and work with well over 30 students to create art and to enable
community involvement and participation.
- President of the Northeast Mississippi Art Association
(NEMAA) and a lifetime member. NEMMA sponsors benefits for local causes
and organizes free entry art shows for local artists.
- Asked in 2006 to visit an elementary school. In a 2
day painting adventure I talked about my disability and art to about
400 kindergarteners to 3rd graders. I talk about the importance of wearing
safety belts even in the back seat. I demonstrated how to drip paint
from a spoon on a canvas then move the canvas around while watching
the colors swirl. The kids participate both by creating their own painting
and creating a large group painting.
- I continue to visit Elementary schools, church youth
groups and the Boy Scouts.
- Traumatic Brain Injury Association of Mississippi Honor
Award in 2011
- Jefferson Award for Public Service in 2011
- Congressman Childers of Mississippi introduced William
to the U.S. Congress
In the News:
- FOX TV report - National
- Jackson newspaper article - South MS
- Shepherd Center's magazine, Spinal Column - National
- New Mobility Magazine four page article _ National
- Mississippi Magazine article
- Daily Journal articles - North MS
- WLBT television news story - Jackson, MS
- WTVA News - Tupelo, MS
- Invitation Tupelo Magazine - North MS
- Mississippi Public Broadcasting - Statewide, MS
I'm free in the sun
on the flowers I can run
My arms are my legs
as far as I can spread
Guides me through the wind, it's the call of my course
Finding the answers, questioning remorse
The beauty of the beast grows inside a cocoon
Fighting a way out to the moon
The journey is a long endless ride
with all my wings I challenge the sky
Each painting causes my mind to wonder what it is I created. Then
I write a poem on the back, explaining a part of the piece seen in