COLUMBIA — Lisa Zhou raises the tip of the uncapped orange marker to her nose, checking for hints of a citrus scent before returning her concentration to the remaining coloring work on her depiction of Belle from the Walt Disney classic “Beauty and the Beast.”
Lisa is a first-grader at Lee Expressive Arts Elementary School in Columbia. Engaged in her artwork, Lisa takes on the countenance of her father as he engages in scientific research or her mother as she rolls out dumpling dough with exacting thickness.
According to her first-grade teacher, Michelle Partington, “(Lisa’s) artwork is extremely out-of-this-world. It’s something I haven’t seen from a 6-year-old before.”
Lisa draws detailed pictures of cartoon characters without any tracing. A computer screen image or a balloon is enough to inspire her. Lisa’s drawings include sophisticated perspectives, such as a flying bird seen through a window.
Lisa and her mother, Yichun Deng, came from China to Columbia a little more than a year ago to join her father, Jianhua Zhou, a postdoctoral researcher in mechanical engineering at MU.
Having made the transition from her native country and having gained a firm grasp on English, Lisa enjoys the time with her classmates. They do not hesitate to ask her for help with spelling during story-writing sessions.
“Everyone loves to spend time with Lisa,” Partington said. “She is just an inspiration to us all. Her smile is infectious.”