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She's taking her art to new heights after facing life's lows

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Posted at 1:10 PM, Jan 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-21 23:30:44-05

RICHMOND, Va. — However you paint it, Paris Allen is spreading her wings as an artist. 

“I love it. I specialize in live art so this is what I enjoy doing,” said Paris. “Absolutely. I’m definitely looking forward to the feedback.” 

The Richmond woman known as "Her Art" is tackling her largest canvas yet in the most unlikely of places. 

“It is going to be something that is going to pop out. Something that is going to be eye-catching as soon as you get off the plane,” said Paris.

The 35-year-old and fellow artist, Humble, are creating a Richmond mural at RIC. 

“Each letter is going to be filled with things that you see around Richmond when you visit,” described Humble. 

It is a vibrant postcard for passengers coming and going. 

 “I was speechless,” said Paris. “I didn’t have any words for something of this magnitude.” 

But the self-taught artist’s journey has not been turbulence free. Born in Amelia, Paris discovered her passion at age 11. 

“I initially picked up a brush when I was younger,” said Paris. “Anything that involves art I have my hands into.” 

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The only child was inspired by her mom’s morning makeup routine.  

“I first saw that when I saw my mother getting dolled up for work,” said Paris. 

Her mom, Cynthia, was always there to encourage her blossoming artist. 

“Because she would always tell me how beautiful my art was when I was painting,” said Paris. 

But when she was 13, Paris’s love of painting soured. 

 “It wasn’t fun for me anymore,” she said. 

After her mom went blind, Paris grew up fast. Painting the last thing on her mind. 

“When she was working two jobs, her second job was doing makeup at a local funeral home. I took that on as my first job," said Paris. 

But four years later — a miracle. 

“Words can’t express the level of joy, you know,” said Paris. 

The donated corneas of an 18-year-old killed in a car crash would help her mom regain her sight. 

 “I wish that I knew the family of the young lady to personally thank her for changing my life," said Paris. 

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Paris and her mom, Cynthia

Years later, with prompting from mom, Paris would rediscover her childhood passion. She hasn’t looked back. 

“She said, ‘I would love to see you paint.’ I said it’s been almost 10 years.”

But painting sustains her. It’s her oxygen and livelihood.

“It is like a puzzle. You try to figure out what works,” explained Paris. 

Art helped her through an abusive relationship, and living in a shelter with her daughter. 

 “It is a chance at rebirth. It is like a second chance at life," said Paris. 

Paris doesn’t know where she would be without her paint and palette. 

“I am truly blessed. I never thought it would evolve to what it is now,” she said. 

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Portraits of celebrities are her specialty. 

“Now, when I’m painting, I get that excitement I used to get when I started painting all over again,” said Paris. 

But the single mom is using her talents for change and awareness.

“A young girl by the name of Markiya Dickson passed away,” explained Paris. 

She paints the faces of children taken too soon. Victims of shootings.

“I want to continue to do these pieces to immortalize them," said Paris. “When people see these pictures they live forever.” 

When the subject matter proves too heavy, Paris always leans on her biggest fan. 

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 “Every day I tell her I love her and I tell her that ‘mommy is so proud of you,;" said mom, Cynthia Sims.

She and Cynthia, who lives in Northern Virginia, remain close.

“We were a team, as we are today. We’re a team,” said Cynthia. “She is awesome.” 

A beaming mother sees greater heights for her daughter. 

“Today, just to see how she has grown and see the love she has for painting, it is amazing. I can’t tell you how proud I am of Paris,” said Cynthia.

 Back at Richmond International Airport, a wider audience will admire the terminal’s colorful new addition. 

 “Art is a universal language,” said Paris. “It is something that everyone can understand. And I’m just happy to be a part of it.” 

Paris Allen is an artist whose career is taking off. 

“Looking back on it I believe this was my assignment to touch lives through my art.”

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If you would like to follow Paris’s art journey, click here.

If you know of someone with an interesting story email me at gmcquade@wtvr.com 

Like powerful stories? Watch CBS 6 News at 11 p.m. Fridays for Greg McQuade’s “I Have A Story” reports. If you know of someone Greg should feature, email him at gmcquade@wtvr.com



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