By Brad Edwards

(CBS) — What do you do if your passion is painting and a tragedy suddenly leaves you without the use of your arms?

One Chicago-area artist did what she had to do.

As CBS 2’s Brad Edwards reports, an exhibit of her incredible work is now on display at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.

At a recent showing, visitors marveled at the master strokes of Naperville’s Mariam Paré.

Before it was beautiful, it was bleak.

“I thought I was destined to a life of isolation,” she says.

A bullet hit her spine in 1996 while she was visiting a friend out of state – a case that’s still unsolved. She was paralyzed from the chest down.

Then, adjusting to life in a wheelchair, she lost control. A couple of heroes plucked her from the big lake in 1998.

But she wanted to be an artist, and she is.

“It’s actually second nature for me now,” Paré says.

She mastered her craft with her mouth.

Money raised from her paintings go toward the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago’s art therapy program. Mariam says it was that very program that reconnected her to her dreams.

Click here to go to her website.

Brad Edwards