Discovering Her Inner Artist

Glenneisha DarkinsGlenneisha Darkins, 25, never imagined becoming a painter. An athlete, she played on the women’s basketball team at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, and dreamed of playing basketball overseas. But while driving home to Miami in 2010, Darkins was involved in a car accident that left her a C1 quadriplegic and vent user.

“I was incredibly angry and bitter at what had happened to me,” she says. “I was very difficult to work with and reluctant to get up and get used to being in my wheelchair.” But within a couple of years, Darkins reached a turning point. “I started to talk to myself more and to God, and I began to read. I began to notice changes — how I see things, think about things and knowing where to best let out my frustrations.”

Darkins also kept a notepad to express her emotions. Those notes were translated into a book, Freedom Chair: An Open Diary of a Quadriplegic. Darkins switched her major to psychology and switched schools to Florida International University. Perhaps more importantly, while she was writing her book, she discovered another art form, painting.

“I discovered art by browsing on YouTube while I was bored writing my book,” she laughs. “As I was browsing, I saw someone who was also in my position, painting with his mouth. Once I saw that, I was extremely inspired and motivated to create my own pieces.” Darkins mainly paints nature, animals and portraits.

“I’ve realized that my purpose in life is not just to inspire people with my voice, but also with my art regarding my life as a quadriplegic and as a black woman.” See her paintings at or find her book on