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Inspirational Butler County artist dies in vehicle crash

Butler County artist Chelsea Huggins was in an inspiration to many people throughout the south Alabama as well as the country.

Last Thursday, Huggins was killed in a one-vehicle crash on Interstate 65 near the 107 exit south of Georgiana. She was 26 years old.

According to the Alabama State Troopers office in Dothan, Huggins was driving a 2014 Chevy Silverado when it left the roadway and struck a tree. The wreck occurred at around 10:25 a.m. She was pronounced dead at Georgiana Hospital soon after the wreck.

The inspiration behind Huggins’ art was not always the artwork itself, but rather how she went about creating it.

In 2010, Huggins was in a car accident, which left her paralyzed from the chest down. She went on to earn a college degree and eventually began mouth painting. Painting with her mouth started out as a therapeutic activity during Huggins’ long recovery and rehabilitation, but quickly became a meaningful way to express herself creatively and share that creativity with others.

Huggins’ art has been featured in the Lower Alabama Arts Center in Andalusia, the High Horse Gallery in Greenville and one of her paintings was chosen in 2014 for a display at the Reeve Foundation Headquarters in Short Hills, N.J. as part of a 10-painting collection for Expression of Paralysis.

Julie Swann is a Greenville native and avid art collector. Among some well-known pieces of art hanging in Swann’s house are several pieces by Huggins.

“I’ve got about six of Chelsea’s pieces hanging throughout the house and I’ve bought some just to give to family members and friends,” she said. “Chelsea told her story through paintings. Her story was one of positivity and perseverance. Not only was that evident through her paintings, but also through how she lived.”

Swann also commissioned Huggins to do several paintings for her two daughters.

“Chelsea was an amazingly charismatic woman who left her mark on everyone she came into contact with,” Swann said. “Her legacy will be how she was able to inspire others through art. She just embraced life and took advantage of opportunities that people who aren’t handicap don’t take advantage of. I really hope she knew what her art and life meant to others.”

A memorial service was held for Chelsea on Monday. Most of her artwork can be seen at www.facebook.com/mouthartbychelsearaehuggins

Huggins also actively posted inspirational quotes to her social media pages. Her mother, Amy, recently shared this quote by her daughter:

“I love people I have things in common with. People who love life and all that comes with it – good & bad; people who see the good in the world before the bad; people who are animal lovers; people who enjoy intellectual conversations and yummy coffee; people who love the sunshine, but can also enjoy a storm; people who feel the music instead of listen to it; people who have empathy & compassion for all; people who are strong, yet cry it out at times; people who open doors for others; people who smile at strangers; people who enjoy art and creating beauty despite all of the ugliness surrounding them; people who are understanding and accepting of things outside of their normal; people who are determined to persevere in the face of difficulty; people who are open minded and eager to learn; people who strive to make a positive difference- big or small; people who cherish time because they know it will run out; people who take time to write letters, because they’re sentimental; people who aren’t afraid to be themselves.” – Chelsea Rae Huggins.