Mill Creek Elementary student wins national art contest

Thursday, October 7, 2010 | 7:46 p.m. CDT; updated 1:44 p.m. CDT, Friday, October 8, 2010
Madisyn Hinkebein, 6, was inspired by the art of Wassili Kandinsky. Her painting won first-place in the preschool/kindergarten category of American Printing House' national BlindInSights 2010: Visions from the Mind art contest.

COLUMBIA Madisyn Hinkebein doesn't know what the art of Wassili Kandinsky looks like exactly, but you wouldn't know it from looking at her winning art piece.

The Columbia School Board recognized Madisyn, 6, as the first place winner in the preschool/kindergarten category of American Printing House’s national 19th Annual Blind InSights 2010: Visions from the Mind art contest.

“It was kind of a shock,” said Madisyn's mother, Lyndsay Hinkebein.

At the board's meeting in September, Madisyn was excited and clapped and shook every one’s hands after her accomplishment was announced, Hinkebein said.

A student at Mill Creek Elementary, Madisyn's Kandinsky-inspired painting was one of 19 entries in her category. There were nearly 400 total entries in the contest. Her painting will be on display at the Galt House Hotel & Suites in Louisville, Ky., from Oct. 14 to 16.

Diagnosed with septo-optic dysplasia with optic-nerve hypoplasia, Madisyn has a visual impairment that includes blindness and pupil dilation in response to light. That means she can see some light at times, said Barbara Hoyle, Madisyn’s visual impairment specialist at Mill Creek.

Hoyle said she has used many products from the American Printing House to help teach her students.  She's been aware of the annual contest for several years and has entered other students from time to time. Madisyn's work is the first student's work she has entered who has won.

Last year, Hoyle sat with Madisyn for 30 minutes each week in her art class to make sure that the right adaptations were being made for her and to help her build independence in completing projects.

During that time, Grace Carmichael, Madisyn’s art teacher, introduced the Russian impressionist painter Wassilli Kandinsky to the class for the project. She used his paintings to get her kindergartners acquainted with nonobjective painting and primary colors. Carmichael explained to the class and to Madisyn that in nonobjective painting the viewer cannot recognize an object, person, plant or animal. The goal was to experiment with colors.

“We have to organize things for her so that things are accessible to her hands,” Carmichael said. “That way she can visualize it, in a sense, in her mind.”

Using the sensitivity of her fingers, Madisyn felt where the edges were and used stamps to create straight edges, Carmichael said.

Set on a white background, Madisyn’s tempura painting is an interplay of bold brushstrokes in red, yellow and blue with black lines for emphasis.

Awards for first-, second- and third-place contest winners will be presented on  Oct. 15 at a special invitation-only ceremony in Louisville where 41 blind or visually impaired artists will be honored. Approximately 400 people are expected to attend the ceremony, said Roberta Williams, public relations manager at the American Printing House for the Blind.

The American Printing House for the Blind is the official supplier of educational materials for visually impaired students in the U.S. who are working at less than college level. The nonprofit organization holds the art contest as a part of its mission to "promote the independence of blind persons."

Madisyn and her family will not be able to attend the ceremony or the showcasing. But when asked about winning, Madisyn had a one-word response:  “Wow.”

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