Hickman sprinter progresses on track and in art

Friday, May 14, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — She is not afraid to get her hands dirty. Whether she is hard at work with charcoal, paint, pencils, or molding clay, Hickman senior Jamela Kimbrough creates pieces of art to express herself.

Kimbrough possessed a passion for drawing since she was a little girl. As an avid fan of comic books, especially the Hulk and Iron Man, she was inspired to create her own comic book.

“I read them, draw them, and am intrigued by them,” Kimbrough said. “I like graphic novels because I like the story lines and how they can tell a story through pictures.”

Kimbrough said art provides her with an emotional outlet. It serves many purposes, ranging from entertainment to releasing stress to expressing emotions. But she said one of the most valuable qualities art offers to Kimbrough is a measure of progress.

“I don’t want to be in the same place, drawing at the same level, a year from now,” Kimbrough said. “I want to grow and expand my range and my work. It has to evolve, as a senior I want to reach senior achievement, I evolved from what I drew in second grade over the years and I want to continue to evolve.”

Progress is also something Kimbrough is striving for on the Hickman track team. Kimbrough is a sprinter and competes in the 100- and 200-meter dash as well as the 4x100, 4x200 and 4x400 relays. She is the anchor leg in the sprint medley, a race that consists of two 100-meter dashes followed by a 200-meter and ending with a 400-meter run.

She is running faster times and steadily improving. This season she ran the 400-meter dash in under a minute (58.8 seconds) and set a personal best in the 200-meter dash with a time of 25.45 seconds.

“This is by far her best season, she has had tremendous growth,” Hickman coach Steve Kissane said. “She has worked really hard and has really improved this year.”

Her artistic abilities continue to improve, too.

Kimbrough is currently working on a comic book. The characters and plot revolve around an Armageddon-type time period. The drawings are more involved than her previous comic book artwork because she is including explosions and action. Her previous comic book was called "Reign of the Dragon," but her current creation doesn’t have a title yet.

While drawing provides Kimbrough with an outlet to express herself, it has also proved to be a useful study tool. In health class Kimbrough couldn’t remember the defense systems in the body, so she created a comic strip with its own plot to help her remember the function and parts of the system.

Her talent does not stop at comic book art. Kimbrough took classes in painting and drawing as electives at Hickman, but she wanted to continue taking art classes. She enrolled in jewelry design and ceramics to try something new.

Kimbrough made her own beads and soldered gold, silver and copper together. She even used saws to cut shapes from copper. The earrings, bracelets and rings Kimbrough created in her jewelry-making class were given to her mother and grandmother as gifts.

After testing out new mediums to work with, Kimbrough’s favorite technique is charcoal.

“It’s fast and easy,” Kimbrough said. “I’m messy but it’s easy to cover up mistakes with blending techniques. In painting it is hard to cover up spills or splotches, but it’s easy to hide it in charcoal with shading and blending. And the best thing is my work can be as messy as I want it to be.”

For Kimbrough, it's very much about trying new things.

“I love doing things outside of my realm, whether it’s just to try something new or to de-stress,” Kimbrough said. “I like to be creative in my free time.”

Her willingness to try something new helped her find a place on the Kewpies track team. Kissane, a P.E. teacher at Smithton middle school, talked Kimbrough into coming out for the high school track team after noticing she could keep up with the boys when racing against them during Smithton track practices.

Kissane was not the only one to notice her talent. Kimbrough was recruited by Indiana Tech to join their track program in the fall. She is still thinking about her decision, but she knows running and art will remain an integral part of her life.

“Running and art feed my wanting to achieve,” Kimbrough said. “In art I want to achieve a sense of being, capture an emotion and achieve a concept. In track I want to achieve my goals. I’ve been working on coming out of the starting blocks stronger and keeping a constant pace in the 400-meter run. I want to achieve these goals by the end of the season.”

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