Volunteer Mary Ann Dris and Artist-in-Residence Flip Kimmel with students at the Hillcrest PDS kindergarten art gallery on opening night.
Local artist helps students with masterpieces
by Mary Senter
A novel idea by local artist Flip Kimmel has student artwork on a traveling art exhibit across town. It was the reason kindergarten students at Hillcrest PDS returned to school after hours with their parents in tow for the evening opening of the flipART student art exhibit, a joint project between Hillcrest PDS and South Waco Elementary that is coordinated by volunteers Flip Kimmel and Mary Ann Dris.
The project began in the fall semester when artist-in-residence Flip Kimmel and Mary Ann Dris began working with the students at both elementary schools.
“We had over 80 students participating between both schools,” said Kimmel.
The exhibit features 60 paintings by Hillcrest PDS kindergarten students and 23 paintings by South Waco Elementary students.
“We completed all the artwork at Hillcrest PDS and South Waco Elementary right before the Christmas break,” said Dris, who along with Kimmel spent time and much care assembling all of the 83 pieces and transforming the Hillcrest PDS art room into an art gallery.
The exhibit will remain at Hillcrest PDS from Jan. 30 through Feb. 3. After that, it will be moved to South Waco Elementary where it will be displayed on the school’s stage from Feb. 6 through Feb. 10.
“This year we integrated Native American art with their studies of Texas and world history with the fourth- and fifth-grade GT cluster at South Waco and the study of native animals of Texas with the kindergarteners at Hillcrest PDS,” Kimmel explained.
“We went on a fieldtrip to the zoo with 60 Hillcrest PDS kindergarteners and studied the animals native to the Brazos River Country, Piney Woods, Blackland Prairie, and Cross Timbers. The students had sketch books provided by the teachers and an educational lecture about these animals conducted by the zoo,” Dris said.
The students spent time each week with the artists, painting the animals they studied at the zoo. Each student painted one of 12 different animals on a canvas.
The fourth- and fifth-graders at South Waco Elementary were divided into three groups, and each group had a different project.
Some of the students made a paper mache longhorn skull painted with native symbols telling a story, while another group made a Native American inspired tapestry rug representing an animal. Students in the last group each made a canvas "skin" painted with native symbols telling a story. While they worked with the artists during their “flipART” time, the students studied Native American history and symbolism.
“Two of the groups wrote their own stories using Native American symbols as well as creating their own symbols. The other group studied different animals important in Native American culture and depicted one on their tapestry rug,” Kimmel explained.
Flip has been working with Hillcrest PDS as a volunteer “artist in residence” for the past 12 years, and at South Waco Elementary in the same capacity for the past six years.