Though he is trained as an engineer, one of the classes Derek Carpenter enjoyed most at Missouri S&T was an art class. Carpenter graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering in 2012 before a medical diagnosis put his life on hold. Just after graduation, Carpenter learned that he had Hodgkin lymphoma. He took some time to reflect while he fought the disease.
“I had a lot of time to step back from all my plans,” Carpenter said. “And that’s when I started drawing a lot. I was just wiped clean as far as activity. It was a blessing, in a way, because I got to look at life from a more fundamental perspective and spend a little more time with myself in a vulnerable place.”
Out of that period came the “Art of One,” Carpenter’s art project that helps him connect to the world.
“Meditation and spirituality arise naturally from periods of suffering and wanting to know answers. Art of One is a reflection of all that,” said Carpenter.
His disease is on the mend and his career is back on track. Carpenter now works as the manager of the Structures Laboratory at the University of Colorado in Boulder and continues to make art in his spare time.