Wish Book: An artist who needs a helping hand

Andres Lorenzo, 22, left, stands with his brothers, Eros, 19, and Xander, 16, right, in their home in Hialeah. Samantha Morell

Andres Lorenzo is not just a regular 22-year-old college student. He’s an artist-in-the-making.

He excels in his art courses at Miami Dade College and spends his free time expanding his portfolio. His goal is to become a videogame designer and create smiles around the world. 

He draws every day.

Art is his escape from life’s stresses and worries, and if he doesn’t draw every day, anxiety can overcome him. 

Andres is autistic. He lives with his parents and two siblings, Xander, 16, who is also autistic, and Eros, 19, a student at Florida International University.

Andres started to draw simple pieces when he was age 7. He said creating art as a way of expressing himself and unwinding. 

“I’m already having the best time of my life doing this,” he said. “I feel like a drug addict when it comes to drawing art because I love to constantly practice and learn more.” 

Andres is working on an associate’s degree in animation and game art. After he graduates in 2023, he wants to earn a bachelor’s degree in the field.

Andres loves college because he gets to meet new people.

“My favorite class has been digital character design simply because the professor was a gamer just like me, so she was very relatable,” he said.

Like many people with autism, he does better with a routine, and when that breaks, there can be trouble. His biggest obstacle is the bad weather or hurricanes that can cause power outages. When there is no light or air conditioning, their small home in Hialeah can become chaotic. Andres loses control of his emotions and can start cursing. Xander can become manic. If the family can’t de-escalate the situation, they can become physically aggressive.

Andres’ mother Sady Lorenzo, 50, said his routine can’t keep changing whenever there is bad weather.

“His father and I are getting old, and we can’t control his aggressive impulses anymore,” she said. “Honestly, we are just exhausted.” 

Andres’ dedication and passion for art inspired social worker Monica Gomez to nominate him for Wish Book. She said they don’t ask for anything, but would like a generator from the program. It will let Andres continue creating art through any weather conditions and help keep both him and his brother stable. Everyone’s mental health in the house is jeopardized when there is no power.

Gomez started working with Andres in June 2020 and said that after only two visits to their home, she noticed how supportive his family was. She was also impressed by the quality of Andres’s art. The meaning behind every piece demonstrates his thought process and kind heart. 

“When I saw him, I realized he is a hidden treasure because he has such an immense talent and it can be seen in every drawing,” she said. “The first thought that came to mind was, ‘Wow he is truly amazing.’” 

Creating art is the foundation of Andres’ mental and emotional progress. With a generator, he can continue to create while staying stable.

“I use my emotions and make art out of it,” he said. “It’s pretty much like therapy to me.”

This story first appeared in the Miami Herald. 

Shantel Sanchez is a senior at Florida International University studying to become a broadcast journalist. She enjoys traveling and going to the beach with her family. Her personal hobbies include relaxing by the beach, taking a drive, listening to music and simply spending time with those she cares about. She is a few months away from graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Journalism and she also wants to pursue a master’s degree. She has always dreamt of owning her own business and of working in the Journalism field so she wants to combine both. Her plan is to earn more experience in the journalism field to have more preparation to open her own News Media company. Her goal is to both become a well-known news reporter and own her company by age 26. Another one of her passions is marketing, as she enjoys learning about the field and the strategies that are used.