“When I started thinking about the story of my feet, I wanted everyone to feel that when I sit down to do work, there is a hand in my feet,” Richard Opi says. The 27-year-old who was born without arms, has grown to become a talented painter. With his feet, he can ably pick a painting brush, mix paints and lift his right foot to paint. With the same feet, he can open and close tins as well as feed, using a fork.
Opi is a happy soul who says he does not need anyone to feel pity for him but rather be treated as any other visual artist.
Currently undertaking a residential internship at fellow artist Bruno Ruganzu’s home, Opi is bringing to life his artistic abilities to the surprise of visitors who seem not to get enough of his unique painting skills.
“Everyone has a chance to go and do something. You have an opportunity, so go and make it work. This is my journey. I have already started using it to tell stories through art,” the artist says with a smile.
Opi was born in Adjumani, West Nile in 1993 and his art depicts realism.
“I want people to know how I feel about my feet. When I sit down, I feel there is a hand in my feet. I do not feel that there is no hand, so I came up with the idea or topic called the ‘sit down hand’.
Ruganzu says Opi is a very talented and hardworking artist who loves what he is doing.
“He will actually not eat when he has an assignment. At the beginning I was briefing him about the need to make independent decisions. I wanted that part to come clear to his mind because as an artist, you are your voice, we cannot tell you paint this or that,” Ruganzu says of his journey with Opi.
The intern’s journey began when he was in Primary Three. He used to draw some pictures on paper and consequently compiled a drawing book. To hone his skills further, he later joined Michelangelo College of Creative Arts in Bwebajja. He also joined Kyambogo University where he met Ruganzu, a lecturer of art.