‘I invited them to paint with their toes’: How a Westport artist without arms inspires children

Connecticut Families

WESTPORT – “Creativity was a world where I knew there was no limit,” says Rosie Jon, a painter who was born without arms.

So, when her son was headed to kindergarten, she turned to art to ease her nerves.

“I had seen these kids staring out the window of the bus pointing at me…I felt like I was sending him into a den of lions,” she explains. “I got to invite myself to my son’s classroom…initially, when I arrived in the classroom, they were not sure, some of them were afraid, didn’t know what to expect.”

But then, she drew them in. “I invited them to paint with their own toes,” she says. “In that creative process, there’s so much joy and they get to see past my physical difference.”

Rosie takes me through her process with the students. First, we close our eyes and: “Ask our own hearts, ‘What is my gift to share with the world?”

I write my answer on the plexiglass with my foot. It’s barely legible but it shares my passion.

“To tell stories, I can read that,” says Rosie.

Then, she paints…working from the center – the heart of the piece, out – splattering colorful droplets, covering our written gifts with positivity and light.

“I get a feeling when it’s done,” she says.

We lift the plexiglass which allows the piece to change and evolve with every background.

“Blue has always been one of my favorite colors,” she says…because it reminds her of the sky and the sea, places where there are no limits.

“I get to see hearts being changed, people having a new perspective…that our differences are something we can embrace,” she says. “I think we could do more of that in this world. If I can play a tiny role in that, I’m happy to be in that, yeah.”

Rosie is excited to see where her art takes her. For now, she’ll keep donating her time, opening eyes and inspiring hearts.

Follow her on Instagram: @rosiejon

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