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21-Year-Old Quadriplegic Paints with his Eyes

Feb 09, 2016 08:39AM ● By Jessica Thompson

By Jessica Thompson  |  [email protected]

Taylorsville - When Justin Miller was just two years old, he caught a virus that completely paralyzed his body for a week. Miller soon recovered and could eventually breathe and talk on his own again. During this time Miller’s mother, Donna Miller, said, “He was a normal little boy. He loved to finger paint. Even then he liked to do art.” 

At the age of five, he caught the virus once again, but this time he never recovered, causing Miller to become a quadriplegic. The doctors have never been able to diagnose Justin’s cause for becoming paralyzed. Now at the age of 21, Justin doesn’t let his disabilities stop him from creating something beautiful. 

With the help of a communication computer called the Dynavox, Justin is able to create bright and beautiful artwork with the movement of his eyes. The computer follows his eye movements and takes pictures to help him communicate through speech and his artwork. Justin is also able to smile slightly and use his right ear movement to control his wheelchair. 

“I started painting because I thought it was something I would be good at and something I would be interested in. I also thought it was a good talent for me to have. When I first started painting, I thought to myself, doing artwork is a fantastic idea, I’m going to create art,” Miller said with the help of his computer.

St. Mark’s Hospital Taylorsville Emergency Center purchased three pieces of Justin’s artwork making him now a professional artist. 

“I think it is wonderful that Justin is so talented and that people want to buy his artwork. If you look at him, it doesn’t look like he can do anything, but of course he does. He creates this beautiful artwork,” Donna Miller said.

The new Emergency Center is a 10,500-square-foot facility with 10 exam rooms, including a trauma room with services including computerized tomography, ultrasound and X-Ray. This new center is located at 2675 West Taylorsville Boulevard.  

The three pieces on display at the Emergency Center have been titled by Justin. His entire artwork collection is tilted ‘Art of Imagination’ with the first piece titled ‘Tired Water.’ 

“I feel relaxed when I’m painting. I always imagine myself being in different places when I am doing artwork. I imagine myself being on the beach, listening to the calm relaxing waves and watching the sun set, ” Miller said.  

The other two pieces of art are titled ‘Stained Glass Window’ and ‘Blowing Dust.’ 

“It’s wonderful and amazing that he can express himself through artwork. It makes me feel happy for him and amazed at what he does because of the limitations that he has,” Donna Miller said.

This new facility is not the only place where you will be able to find Justin’s artwork. The Emergency Center gifted one of Justin’s Masterpieces to Taylorsville City Hall for more people to enjoy viewing. 

Having a disability has not stop Justin from accomplishing his goals and he feel others should do the same. 

“I would encourage others to follow their dreams by having a variety of things to image and having a variety of emotions. I would encourage people to dream about having a creative talent, whether it’s a talent in art, writing, music, designing websites or any other creative talent,” Miller said.

The Millers believe that the sky is the limit with children who have disabilities. 

“I know children with disabilities are capable of doing miraculous things just like Justin. I am thankful for technology that can make it so they can do whatever they want,” Donna Miller said.


unior High is where Justin first learned how to create art and since then has become part of an organization called Doue which means “gifted” in French. This organization invites special needs artists to share their talents and inspirational stories. Doue is currently applying to be a non profit, which will hopefully give them an opportunity to have a traveling art exhibit and work with more facilities to display special needs children’s art work. 

Veronica Hansen, Doue representative, said, “We feel that this will provide Justin and other special needs artists with continued opportunities, add even greater value to their work, and touch many lives in the process.” 

“Painting gives me a variety of things to imagine and gives me a variety of emotions. Artwork is another way I can express and communicate. That’s what I like about painting,” Miller said.