February 10, 2022

Quadriplegic Adventist Shares Positive Outlook on Life through Mouth-Painting

Marcelo Cunha overcame seemingly insurmountable hurdles to find his artistic purpose.

Gabriela Porto, for South American Division, and Adventist Review

Marcelo Cunha, an athlete and designer in Brazil, was just 21 when he had a diving accident that left him quadriplegic. Despite facing major physical limitations and seemingly unsurmountable hurdles, nothing has been able to prevent him from making his dreams come true and serving God through his testimony.

In spite of the adversities, Cunha began painting with his mouth and has devoted himself to painting for 10 years. Driven by a desire for change, he sought to communicate how much art can transform lives using this unconventional way.

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According to Marcelo Cunha, through his paintings, he seeks to inspire others to see a different perspective on God’s love. [Photo: courtesy of Marcelo Cunha]

Cunha is director of the Department of Stewardship and Sabbath School of his local congregation, Jardim Paulista Seventh-day Adventist Church in Campo Grande, Rio de Janeiro. In recent years, he has held workshops in Adventist congregations in the area. He has participated in various camping events and other teen, youth, and young adult activities, where he encourages attendees to keep serving God even amid challenges and difficulties. 

“Immersing myself in the artistic universe determined a change that I never imagined,” Cunha says. “As a result of playing in a waterfall, I had an accident and became a quadriplegic. Without being able to fulfill dreams that depended on physical freedom, I questioned a lot. And it was in this context that I painted with my mouth. And, more than a gift, a ministry and countless possibilities emerged. Now I have autonomy.”

According to Cunha, in each work he tries to include elements that convey an optimistic outlook on life’s challenges. His commitment has helped him to heal from the loss of freedom and experience significant positive changes with Jesus’ help, he explains.

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Marcelo Cunha’s paintings are full of details, which he paints with a brush in his mouth. [Photo: courtesy of Marcelo Cunha]

For Cunha, every painting he completes and hangs on a wall becomes a new opportunity for sharing with other people the miracles Jesus can do. “I felt happy to become active [in this way],” Cunha says. “Out of this, I felt a desire to have a permanent studio to exhibit my paintings all the time instead of storing them on shelves.”

“I have been working more intensely,” he says. “Several of my paintings have been selected and reproduced on cards and calendars and have been sold in more than 70 countries. If that were not enough, I was promoted as an associate member of the Association of Mouth and Feet Painters,” Cunha adds. “Now I have found an ideal location in Rio de Janeiro. It is a place of luscious native vegetation and natural beauty, with a large and accessible house which allows me to have the studio of my dreams.”

The original version of this story was posted on the South American Division Portuguese-language news site.