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Young man's art inspires Our Place

5:18 PM, Dec 26, 2012   |    comments
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Sometimes art can make you feel a certain emotion, inspire you, or speak to you.

A local artist found an outlet for his voice through drawing and painting.

The sound of his voice is something his mother missed for several years when her son was diagnosed with Autism.

"At the age of two he just stopped talking and didn't talk for maybe two or three years. He would just draw all the time," Angela Freeman Hunter said.

The early drawings were Derrick Freeman's way of communicating. He would make dozens a day. Now at age 22 he's still painting.

"We stopped counting at over 2,000 pieces of art," she said.

Angela Freeman Hunter appreciates her son's art.

"I can tell when he's really happy and excited because his artwork... well, you can see it. He loves flowers. Very peaceful young man. Very spiritual," she said.

She remembers one night hearing Derrick crying in his room.

"He was sitting on his bed with the curtain pulled back and he said the moon told me it loved me. So when you go on his website you can actually see that particular piece of artwork and it's called the moon," she said.

Her favorite painting is one called Shadows with a waterfall background and shadows of people.

Derrick also makes book marks and note cards and ornaments.

She said, "He did the Christmas ornament that's at Governor Haslam's mansion. He did that and Derrick had never done Christmas ornaments before so after he did that one it inspired him to do the Christmas ornaments that he had this year for Christmas."

His art is displayed at places around town.

"Here at Cities Cupcake, David's studio, and the Knoxville Museum of Artand then he has a website," she said,

Derrick's success selling his art and enjoying its creation prompted angela to start a free program that's been meeting in different donated spaces.

"We started a new program called Our Place. And it's just to give artists with disabilities or special needs the opportunity to come and it's a free art workshop," she explained.

Our Place is looking for a permanent facility when the art workshop starts up again next month.

It's a place where people like Derrick are just people who turn to art to express themselves.

"Derrick's art work has been a blessing to my family and just giving hope and inspiration to other families," she said.

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