The artist inside

At 13, Michael Daven­port lost his arms, but not his pas­sion

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - By Tyler Smith

While play­ing in his yard when he was 13- years- old, Michael Daven­port de­cided to em­u­late the great jun­gle war­rior Tarzan he had seen on television. He col­lected a good length of rope and twirled it back and forth be­fore let­ting it fly to­wards a tree branch to be­come his per­sonal Tarzan swing­ing vine.

But Daven­port’s aim was off just a bit and his would- be vine wrapped around a power line in­stead of a limb. Be­fore he could blink 555,000 volts of elec­tric­ity surged through Daven­port’s body. What he had mis­taken for a spool of rope was ac­tu­ally cop­per wire which acted as a po­tent con­duc­tor for the elec­tric­ity.

As he re­mem­bers it, Daven­port stayed in the elec­tric­ity’s grip for nearly five min­utes be­fore fi­nally break­ing free. When it was over, he had no toes as the cur­rent had de­stroyed the flesh be­fore ex­it­ing his body to reach the ground. Dur­ing the fol­low­ing months, doc­tors pre­formed 64 sep­a­rate op­er­a­tions in an at­tempt to save Daven­port’s arms.

“ They tried to save my right hand,” he said. “ But there was noth­ing they could do.”

Now 41, Daven­port has learned to adapt. De­spite los­ing both arms in the ac­ci­dent, he now makes his liv­ing as an an artist in Por­terdale us­ing his mouth in­stead of his hands to cre­ate his mas­ter­pieces.

Be­fore los­ing his hands, Daven­port could not even draw a stick fig­ure, but one day while sit­ting in class he de­cided to write the al­pha­bet us­ing his pen­cil and mouth. Soon he was able to not only write in cur­sive, but also draw ba­sic pic­tures as well.

Daven­port said he was able to learn a lot from his un­cle about art.

“ I used to watch my un­cle go at it,” Daven­port said. “ He and his friend were true artists.”

As he per­fected his tech­nique, Daven­port be­gan sell­ing his work, par­tic­u­larly his draw­ings of the Univer­sity of Ge­or­gia foot­ball mas­cot Uga. Grow­ing up around Athens, Daven­port would sell his art­work out­side the sta­dium on game days. On a good day, he would sell 50 draw­ings a day at $ 30 to $ 40 each.

“ I can do any­thing from mas­cots to fam­ily por­traits,” Daven­port said. “ Pretty much any­thing a per­son wants, I can do.”

Daven­port uses mark­ers, pen and ink and pas­tel paints to cre­ate his art­works. In ad­di­tion to the mas­cots, Daven­port also likes to write scrip­tures from the Bi­ble as well as draw bib­li­cal char­ac­ters

“ Stuff like Moses di­vid­ing the seas,” Daven­port said. “ I love cre­at­ing he­roes from the Bi­ble.”

Raised in the church, Daven­port is still a deeply re­li­gious man who cred­its God with all his ac­com­plish­ments.

“ I’m a to­tally born Chris­tian,” Daven­port said. “ Through God there is no such word as can’t.”

Daven­port also gives praise to his grand­par­ents who he said were al­ways there for him.

“ My grand­fa­ther used to tell me, ‘ If you don’t get out there and try you will al­ways feel left out. But if you go out there, you will know you at least tried,’” Daven­port said.

Re­cently Daven­port’s grand­par­ents passed away and he has since fallen on hard times.

“ Since I lost my grand­par­ents, fam­ily has not been there like they should,” he said.

Af­ter Daven­port de­cided to leave Athens, a friend told him about Por­terdale. Through the sup­port of churches and shel­ters, he was able to travel from city to city un­til fi­nally ar­riv­ing about a month ago.

Daven­port, who cur­rently re­sides at the Rain­bow Covenant Church Min­istries tran­si­tional hous­ing, spends his days around the Por­terdale Mill Lofts cre­at­ing and sell­ing his art to lo­cal cit­i­zens and ven­dors.

“ I love it here,” Daven­port said. “ I would love to make it my home. There are lots of real nice peo­ple here.”

Daven­port is sav­ing as much as he can of the mon- ey his art brings in so he can achieve some of his long term goals.

“ I re­ally want to men­tor kids who are go­ing through what I have gone through,” Daven­port said. “ I know how they feel. They feel like the rest of the world can’t un­der­stand which they re­ally can’t un­less they have been through it. I re­ally want them to know that God gave us a chance in life be­cause he loves us.”

He would also like to write a book one day about his ex­pe­ri­ences and pos­si­bly meet Oprah Win­frey.

“ I think we could do a lot of good to­gether,” Daven­port said.

For now though, he is just try­ing to get by and is ask­ing for any help the com­mu­nity might be able to of­fer.

“ I hate to ask for help, but I have to do what God sees fit for me,” Daven­port said. “Any­one who can do­nate art sup­plies or who can help me reach my goals would be ap­pre­ci­ated.”

To con­tact Daven­port, please call ( 678) 419- 8833.

Mandi Singer/The Cov­ing­ton News

Ink on can­vas: Lo­cal artist Michael Daven­port cre­ates a Ge­or­gia Bull­dog ink- on- can­vas draw­ing in front of Latte Da Cof­fee Shop and Dessert Bar in Por­terdale Mon­day af­ter­noon.

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