A Standout Artist
Parked in a wheelchair across from Central Park, Sis García creates childhood images with the skill of a seasoned artist.
Art abounds in La Antigua Guatemala. Wanderers find galleries filled with paintings of romantic, colonial buildings around every corner. Jade jewelry seems to spill out of storefront windows. Tourists cannot escape the Maya children who persistently push their rainbow-colored, handmade goods. Yet one woman, Marcia Sis García, “stands out” by sitting … and drawing with her feet.
“This is my work,” Sis García said. “To go out and draw before the public. And I do it with my feet.”
Sis García was born with physical impediments that left her unable to move her hands and unable to walk. But, cradling her colored pencils in her malformed feet, the 28-year-old woman creates drawings that possess an impressively fine touch. Parked in a wheelchair in Central Park, Sis García creates childhood images with the skill of a seasoned artist.
“I can’t imagine how she can do it,” one passer-by commented. Sis García explains that, since she was a child, using her feet to grasp came naturally. It was Sis García’s father who bought her first crayons, sparking the skill that would become his daughter’s way of life. Her drawings of animals, butterflies and flowers provide the bread and butter for herself and her daughter.
“When work is going well, I’ll sell five or six drawings for 40 or 50 quetzales each,” she says. But she’s quick to explain that she doesn’t find such success every day. While she can sell larger drawings for Q100, Sis García says it is difficult to cover her monthly costs of rent, food and medicine. Simply coming and going from her house in Jocotenango to La Antigua costs the price of one drawing. Guatemala has no government programs to assist the disabled. Aid comes only from family, friends and donations.
“There are always a lot of people who want to help me and who give me motivation to continue,” she explains. “Most of those who help are the tourists and foreigners, people from the United States, who offer their support.”
Her drawings invariably depict nature. She says her favorite images to draw are those of animals. The national bird of Guatemala, the quetzal, is a common subject. Books and photographs also inspire her. The flowers, she says, are created from her imagination.
Drawing before the public is something she truly enjoys. She would rather work, she says, than simply sit inside her house, “feeling bored with nothing to do.” Above all, she says she hopes her work inspires young people, like her daughter.
“More than anything, I always want to inspire the children; I want to show them that they can move forward and think that everything is possible.” It seems Sis García’s work is making a lasting impression on one such child at least. Her daughter, Cristina Sarai Sis affirmed that her mother’s example has inspired her to think big. Sarai Sis confidently informed me that she plans on being a doctor when she grows up.