My name is Carina Imbrogno and I'm a self taught award winning artist and illustrator. I would like to share my miracle story with everyone I can possibly reach to help inspire them and give them hope. I’m becoming an inspirational artist and my life mission to tell my story and share my art. It’s one way of me paying it forward for all the miracles I’ve have had in my life. I truly believe that God is keeping me alive so I can share my story with others.
I was born in 1974 in Buenos Aires, Argentina to Italian immigrants. I was born with a rare genetic disorder called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome kyphoscoliosis type, but it was not diagnosed until 2015. This illness caused me to have severe scoliosis kyphosis since the age of two. I am the youngest of eight children. We were four girls and four boys. My oldest sister died from Leukemia as a toddler. I grew up with a very difficult father. I realized years later that my father was always ashamed of me because of the way I looked. Growing up I was also bullied and teased by other kids due to my very prominent rib hump. Having many surgeries and wearing orthopedic braces wasn’t easy!
I began wearing orthopedic braces and body casts from the age 2 to the age of 11 and then again as an adult. I had my first open back surgery at 10 years old. My spine was collapsing so fast I was having trouble breathing. The doctors explained to us that I needed emergency open back surgery because my ribs were collapsing on my lungs making it difficult to breathe. I had a curve of 89 degrees and another curve of 56 degrees. Doctors explained to us that I have a deadly type of kyphoscoliosis and without surgery I would die. I had surgery and had a rod put in to stop my spine from curving any further.
Unfortunately, I had complications. A few days after being sent home from the hospital I developed a very high fever. I went to see the doctor and he discovered I had a massive infection from the surgery. I almost died from this infection which left me hospitalized for three months. Fortunately, the infection finally healed but over time the rod that was put in as a child began giving me problems. By the time I was 18 the rod had somehow moved out of place and doctors think it was causing my migraine headaches. I finally had to go for another surgery to remove part of the rod. My migraine headaches finally went away. However, I struggled with my severe and painful rib hump and was always fearful that I would never find anyone because of the way I looked.
In 1996 I was accepted to go to school at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City to study textile design. I graduated in 2000 with a grade point average of 3.8. My art teacher Susan Rietman who I am very close to always supported me in my work and motivated me to believe in myself. Shortly after I graduated, I met someone and got married but, sadly found myself in an abusive relationship. After I separated from my abusive husband I was diagnosed with endometriosis. I had five abdominal surgeries for this illness which resulted in more complications. It was a very painful illness to endure. During this time, I had a dream of God telling me that I would go through many difficulties, but I wouldn’t die, and He would always be with me. In late 2004 I had a surgery to correct my prominent rib hump, but it was unsuccessful and caused my spine to collapse at a fast rate. I have a very rare and aggressive type of kyphoscoliosis. The doctors told me they couldn’t help and that I would end up in a wheelchair and then die. I remained bedridden and highly medicated to stay alive. By 2006 I had a side curve of 115 degrees and a concave curve of 120 degrees. I felt hopeless and very scared. No doctor would touch me because my condition was so severe and complex, and I only had State insurance which doesn’t cover a $500,000 plus surgery.
One night I had a dream of a white light filled Being who put His hand through me and straighten my spine. Afterwards in my dream I stood up and walked away. Two weeks later I found the doctor who saved my life. My oldest sister Ana took me to Texas where this doctor was able to correct my collapsed spine and rib hump. I have two rods and 26 screws holding my spine and had nine ribs cut and reduced in size to minimize the rib hump. I grew five inches from the surgery. This was a miracle for me. The success of my operation was called a miracle by Dr. Shelekov and his entire team who performed the operation. I am forever grateful for what he did for me. Unfortunately, he passed away two years later.
After the spinal surgery I was doing so well that I was able to take a trip to Argentina to see my parents. I especially wanted to see my mother who hadn’t believed I was well. Unfortunately, a couple of years after my surgery my depression and anxiety took a toll on me. My mental health really began declining rapidly. I began feeling terribly depressed and extremely anxious where I was forced to quit my part time job as a beautiful consultant. I had never felt this way before even with all my surgeries. The doctors eventually discovered I had ovarian failure and was going into early menopause.
I was also in an abusive and toxic relationship and didn’t realize it. I didn’t have he support and understanding I needed. So I felt very alone. There were no medications I could tolerate due to the many side effects and sensitivities I have. A few of the antidepressants I was able to tolerate in the past no longer could tolerate anymore. At this point I was 33 years old. Since I couldn’t tolerate anything my doctor recommended ECT the worst experience of my life. I was so desperate to get better that I didn’t do my research before I did ECT electro convulsive therapy. After five round of it I got extremely anxious and got where I couldn’t sleep for a month. It was one of the worse experiences of my life with my mental health. Not only did it not work but it also affected my memory tremendously even more than before. I have a very hard time retaining what I learn. It’s very frustrating and a very big source of my anxiety. I was living in my brother’s basement at this time and my unmedicated depression and anxiety got so bad that I spent four years feeling hopeless and bed ridden. The one person who gave me hope was Father Frank who visited me. In 2013 I went to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota where they discovered I had pelvic floor muscle dysfunction which added to my IBS making it hard to go to the bathroom.
Amidst of all this suffering one day in 2013 I got a letter in the mail saying I was next on the list to rent a small apartment for people with disabilities in Stamford, CT. The news made me so happy because I had waited for eight years for this opportunity, but at the same time I was scared to move due to my many health issues especially the depression and anxiety. But I took a chance and moved to my own apartment.
One day a friend had me watch the movie Heaven in for real and that’s when something in me changed. In June of 2014 when I watched a movie called Heaven is For Real, I was discovered the artist Akiane Kramarik’s life and work. Akiane Kramarik is a child prodigy who painted the image of Jesus at the age of eight. Akiane started drawing and painting at the age of four. I was so incredibly impressed and fascinated with her story and work that something woke up in me and it inspired me to want to become an artist. Akiane’s story about meeting God helped me to see and believe that my dreams where for real. Akiane paints images from heaven. One of her most famous paintings is the image she painted of Jesus when she was eight years old Prince of Peace which sold almost $1000,000. She began writing poetry at the age of seven. Little did I know that discovering Akiane Kramarik would save my own life.
By October of 2014 I was so ill that I couldn’t drink or eat and weighed only 92 pounds. Going through this was so difficult I would many times dehydrate and end up in the ER. I remember calling my college professor who advised me to come to Mount Sinai in New York City where they were able to find a treatment that I could tolerate. I thought tolerating these medications was other miracle so I thought. I spent my 40th birthday in Mount Sinai hospital. At this time, I was praying to God and I promised Him if He saved my life once again, I would start drawing and painting since art was always something I wanted to do. I never really prayed before because I just wasn’t sure what I believe in. My sister that they emailed me a birthday e-card with the song My Wish by the Rascals Flatts. This song gave me the strength to start praying and once again fight for my life. I kept thinking about Akiane and her incredible life and work that had inspired me so much. She had woken up something in me that was dead for a very long time. I promised God on my birthday if he saved my life once again I would become an artist. I promised I would not let my disabilities and limitations stop me. The next day I began eating and drinking and keeping it down. I slowly began to get my strength back and I was able to go home two weeks later.
A few days after being discharged from the hospital I came down with a pulmonary embolism and once again landed in the hospital. Doctors warned me if the blood thinners didn’t work, I could die. I was petrified but I kept thinking about my dream with God and Akiane and her incredible story and art and somehow, I knew I was going to be okay. I had a second embolism on March 29 2021 and I finally realized what I had been suspecting from the very beginning that my medications that I initially saved my life really caused me these embolisms. Doctors at first dismissed the possibility and then realized since they couldn’t find anything else that could cause clots. After having survived a second embolism I feel like the luckiest person in the world. survived a second embolism and realized the medications are the cause of it. I find myself now weaning off all my psychiatric drugs under a doctors instructions and it had been extremely difficult and some days very debilitating. I feel that with God’s help I will get through these challenging times as well. I’m now taking a more holistic approach to treat my depression and anxiety.
As soon as I was better a close friend then helped financially to buy art supplies to start my art. I began to teach myself how to draw and paint. I should mention that for me learning is a true challenge because I have Attention Deficit Disorder and Retention Deficit Disorder, two challenging learning disabilities and memory problems. I’ve discovered that I can learn visually a d hands on. So, for the past six years I’ve been drawing and painting in different mediums such as gouache, dyes, watercolors, color pencil, graphite, acrylics, oils and now pastels. Because of my disabilities and limitations, I work a lot from photographs. I also find photography absolutely fascinating and it’s another passion of mine.
I started doing portraits after I began volunteering in a daycare doing arts and crafts with children once a week. My own inability to ever have children drew me to learn about kids and then got inspired to draw them. I love to draw nature animals people and children. I work with a lot of high details, so my work looks highly realistic. I have a true passion for what I do. I have entered and been accepted in over 20 juried exhibits. In January of 2017 I won my first award at my very first time exhibiting I won third place at the Stamford Art Association Portraits and figure jury show exhibition. I entered the very first portrait I ever did which was of my mother, who sadly I’m losing to Alzheimer’s disease. Winning with the portrait of my mother meant so much to me. I went on to win first place with the portrait of Jaden in graphite at the Rowayton Art center. And I won third place with a graphite portrait of Melissa. I just won my most recent award in Greenwich with the portrait of Noyan done in pastels. In November 2018 my sister took me to see Paula Abdul in concert and I was lucky enough to have been able to meet her backstage and give her a realistic portrait of Paula and her beloved dog Bessie that I drew In graphite. I never thought I would ask she was going to have the opportunity to meet her that night. It’s a night I will never forget as long as I live. My idol Paula Abdul a celebrity has my work hanging on her wall. All these accomplishments has made me believe more in myself in my God given ability and they have made me work ever harder.Since 2019 my story has been coming out in many sites online. It also came out in a Christian magazine called Woman alive in the UK. And it’s been published in other’s publications as well.
I’m very grateful for the connections I’ve made through social media. I got very inspired by a friend on Instagram by the name of Richard Macwee who is based in Scotland and is an amazing wildlife artist. Richard can work inn any medium but his medium of choice is pastels. He has created his own style which is truly remarkable His work inspired me to try pastels. I fell in love with pastels and created over 85 works of art. It has become the medium of choice. Im very grateful and so blessed to have this incredible artist's friendship. We met right after my nephew committed suicide on June of 2018
In 2019 I started teaching myself pastels an it has became the medium of my choice. I feel like I’m a natural at it and with this medium I’ve created over 85 portraits of nature, wildlife, animals, people and children. I am also teaching myself how to paint in acrylics and oils. My style is photorealism. I love making my art to look as real as possible. I love breathing life into my portraits. I usually like to use dark colors for my backgrounds for a more dramatic effect. I’m still learning and as an artist I feel I’m will be learning forever and I love it so much.I am inspired by old masters especially the Flemish painters.
In 2018 I met Elyse Sgandurra an incredibly gifted artist and spiritualist who has helped me so much opening up my spiritual side even more. Se has been such an amazing role model in my life. Her guidance has been such a blessing in my life. Through Elyse's help i discovered Louise L Hay. I began lisrening too her audios and it the best cognitive therapy I've ever had. Since then I have been working on self love and self healing and working on spiritual growth. Spirituality had become a big part of my life and it’s helped me understand so many things about myself. I feel that my art comes from God and I feel that he gave me all these chances to live so I can tell my story share my work and inspire others.
When I survived my second pulmonary embolism in 2021 it became clear to me that I needed to begin to write my biography. When the pandemic started I’ve been focusing on improving my art skills and now writing my story. My goal is to inspire and give back for everything life has given me. I feel very blessed to be alive and now working towards the chance to inspire others. I’m becoming an inspirational artist with my story and I believe I’m being guided to do what I’m doing. I think I’m proving to myself and to the rest of the world that anything is possible even miracles happen when you have passion, hope, love and faith.
I have created over 140 works of art since 2015. My art is a form of therapy and also a way to inspire others with my inspirational miraculous story. I have been accepted and received recognition in over 280 exhibits and have won over 200 awards in local and international exhibits.
On Februray 16, 2023 one of my biggest dreams came true after almost nine years of dreaming of this moment. I got to meet Akiane Kramarik and I got to thank her in person for saving my life. If was the most incredible experience of my life. You can read the full story how it all happened on this site.
t’s been a dream since I was very young to one day go to space. I’m hoping that this year I will be able to contact Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos to see if they will take me to a space adventure. I would love to become the first disabled woman to go to space. I created to works of art in pastels. One is depicting Jeff Bezos and his rocket ship the other painting, depicts Elon Musk going to Mars. If they take me to space, I will give them the artwork. You can see the artwork on my gallery. I would also love to see some of Elon Musk’s inventions. I’ve always been a fan of his. It would really be an amazing dream come true to meet him in person one day. I have so many plans for the future. A few years agoI discovered the everylife Foundation for Rare Diseases and became part of it.
I'm so proud and so blessed to the EveryLife Foundation for Rare Diseases. I became one of the winners at the Everylife art competition award for 2022. It has been such an incredible honor to have been able to go to Capitol Hill Washington DC this year. Everylife foundation for rare diseases is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering the rare disease patient community to advocate for impactful, science-driven legislation and policy that advances the equitable development of and access to lifesaving diagnoses, treatments and cures. This year I have asked the Senators to help me with creating a program that will help disabled artist afford art supplies. I am hoping to get their support.
One of my big dreams is to help create a program that would help disabled artists with low incomes to buy art supplies at a reduced cost. I think it would really help disabled artists to motivate them to do art. I have found that for me art helps me with my depression and anxiety. Art supplies are extremely expensive. Lowering the cost would give those with low income, a chance to do their art as a form of therapy.
I feel very grateful and blessed to have migrated with my family to the USA where my life has been saved so many times. I am very hopeful for the future and I hope to become a speaker in the future where I can continue sharing my story. I am currently writing my life story in hope to inspire others.