A woman inspired by her son’s creativity is helping others find that same spark through a new program at Farragut Community Center.
Angela Freeman-Hunter of Our Place Art Organization Inc. began offering her already-established arts-based classes for individuals with disabilities earlier this summer in Farragut.
“This has been a perfect location for us since we already had team members who were coming from the Farragut and Lenoir City areas to our classes downtown and at Central Baptist Church of Fountain City,” Freeman-Hunter said.
The free two-hour courses have been at or near capacity, with more planned for each Thursday Aug. 12-26 and each Friday Sept. 2-30.
“We are so excited for Angela/Our Place Art to be teaching classes as part of our schedule here at the community center,” said Brittany Spencer, Town Special Event and Program coordinator. “They are able to provide programming for our community where there was a gap before, and she and her instructors do such an amazing job.”
Freeman-Hunter founded the Knoxville-based non-profit Our Place 2008 after seeing the impact art has had on her now 31-year-old son, Derrick, who is autistic.
“He was a healthy, normal child, but when he turned 3, all of a sudden he just stopped talking,” she recalled, noting Derrick is the youngest of her three children.
Instead, Derrick expressed himself through drawings and paintings, and today has his own nationally-renowned art studio, Eyes of Faith, in the Knoxville Emporium Center. He has exhibited his work throughout the state and has won several awards for his advocacy work on behalf of the autism community.
“I have been so blessed to be Derrick’s mother,” said Freeman-Hunter, who also spent more than 20 years with Knox County Schools in special education, but now dedicates her time to Our Place. “It doesn’t matter where your children are. It is our responsibility to meet them there.”
She said Derrick’s artwork has been a mission for them both, leading her to found Our Place Art, which offers a wide range of classes, clubs and programs to “enrich the lives of individuals with disabilities through the arts,” according to its website.
“We have been involved with Our Place for five years,” said Katie Dodd of West Knoxville, whose children, Logan and Emma, were both taking part in a July 20 Community Center class, where participants painted ceramic rainbows among several projects.
“This is just an amazing group of people who would do anything for our kids,” she added. “I couldn’t speak more highly of them.”
Freeman-Hunter hopes to expand beyond offering classes in Farragut Community Center by also working with the adjacent West Knox County Community Center on integration projects.
She also praised Spencer’s part of the equation, stating, “Brittany has done an excellent job of welcoming us and letting the community know about us. We are really looking forward to seeing what other opportunities might be possible.”
For more information about Our Place, visit www.ourplaceart.com. To register for classes, e-mail email@example.com. Materials are provided, but pre-registration is required.
For a full list of Farragut Community Center classes, visit https://www.farragutparksandrec.org/programsandevents.