Guinn’s passion for art never stifled

Published 9:09 am Friday, June 1, 2018

VALLEY — Throughout her entire life, Becky Guinn’s world revolved around art. Whether it was admiring, creating or teaching, Guinn had an insatiable passion for oil painting that was inspired by her mother and fueled by her teachers in the Chambers County School System.

Guinn graduated from college specializing in oil painting and, to spread her love for creating, started teaching art in Texas before moving back to the Chambers County area with her husband.

In 2002, tragedy stuck. Guinn lost both of her arms and legs to amputation, caused by an adverse reaction to medication. Since then she has been wheelchair-bound and uses prosthetic limbs for day-to-day activities.

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While these circumstances definitely changed her life, they didn’t stifle her fervor for art in the slightest.

“I think, like with anything, when you feel like you could have lost it you appreciate the ability more,” Guinn said. “There’s no fear anymore. It’s ok to mess up, you just start over. “

She had to switch her medium to watercolor paint for its ease of use, but never stopped creating.

“I’m slower now,” Guinn said. “But watercolor has given me that independence of being able to paint whatever I want to, whenever I can without having to wait on someone else to open the tubes or put out the paint; the process that people go through when creating a work of art.”

In the summer of 2003, she completed her master’s degree in Educational Curriculum and Technology and returned to her full-time high school art teacher that fall, just seven months after her quadruple amputations.

Guinn taught art at Valley High School until retiring in 2008. Her passion kept driving her to teach though, and working with Becky Cairns wrote a proposal to the Alabama Arts Council in order to receive grant money for her non-profit venture Hooked on Art.

Guinn and Cairns would travel to schools around the southeast that didn’t have art programs and would work with history and science teachers to implement art into their curriculum.

“Science and math are huge components in the arts,” Guinn said. “History is too because of the art documents that show off time periods so often. You can go back visually to thousands of years ago.

Creating art is something that I think is innate in certain people, to create and to represent the things that are around them. Sometimes art can act as a time capsule.”

Working with the children not only helped spark some of their artistic sides. Guinn said that they would sometimes be just as interested in her capabilities as an amputee.

“It’s the little things like that that hopefully made them aware of disabilities,” Guinn said. “We had some character education moments as well on our trek across the southeast.”

Hooked on Art went until early 2015 when Guinn took her “second retirement.” She said that her dedication to art stems from its ability to be a creative outlet as much as an educational one.

“I’ve learned that art is in the heart and in the mind as well as in the process, the technique and the finished product,” Guinn said. “I believe that anyone can create art and that we learn as much from the process as the finished product.”

When faced with life-changing obstacles Becky Guinn never stopped embracing her passion, both  for herself and for others, and for that she is The Valley Times-News Local Artist of the Week.