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Exhibit features local artists, including woman who draws with her mouth

By: Hillary Thornton Email
By: Hillary Thornton Email

PRESTONSBURG, Ky. (WYMT) - Four years ago, a college professor asked a Martin County woman if she had ever tried drawing. However, it was not as easy as just picking up a pencil or brush.

Despite being born with a condition called Arthrogryposis, Kayla Freeman, answered the challenge... and now her work on display at the Mountain Arts Center.

The 23-year-old enjoys drawing animals, especially elephants and owls....but her most prized creations are drawings of hands.

Freeman says, "I guess since I can't use my own, it is my way of using them, and bringing them to life...shaping them how I want and adding any details I want."

Her condition impacts the use of her arms and legs. Freeman explains, "Basically my muscles did not develop in the womb, so I am confined to a wheelchair."

Confined to a wheelchair but not defined by it, Kayla freeman, is an artist...using her mouth to draw.

"Even though God put me in a wheelchair, He gave me the ability to do things even though I can't use my hands. So I'm extremely blessed and I owe it all to God," Freeman says.

Freeman's work along with 30 other artists' from throughout the region, is on display at the Mountain Arts Center, it is all part of a group show put on by the Kentucky Art Tribe.

Founder, Donna Williams says, "Wanted to create a hub for regional artists to have the opportunity to exhibit. You don't have to go to Lexington, Louisville, Cincinnati, Columbus, or even further out to make it in the art world. If we create our own art world here then we can make it here."

Gathering a diverse group of artists, ranging from 13-years-old to some in their seventies....Williams says Freeman is an inspiration to them all.

"She got a lot of attention for her stuff and then we heard her personal story, .and finding out she draws with her mouth...it changed everything," says Williams.

It is a community Freeman says she is thankful to be a part of, "They are just wonderful about accepting me even though I am in a wheelchair and they love my art."

As she creates and defines her own path in life.

The exhibit is open at the Mountain Arts Center through March 31st.

There will be another group show in April at the Blue Raven in Pikeville.


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