Young artists bring value of compassion into living color

Louis Amestoy | Nov 20, 2019

Paulina Orta is not afraid to answer questions, speak in public and paint — a lot.

The 10-year-old fifth-grader from Kerrville’s Starkey Elementary School wasn’t exactly sure who Fred Rogers was, but she was clear about the reason of his work.

“Kindness matters,” said Orta, who began speaking English only two years ago. “It matters because being kind matters to a lot of people.”

Orta was one of the children who had work curated by Kerrville artist Kristin La Rue for the first Kerrville Kind Art Show at Schreiner University. Tuesday’s show was the first of three days of events focused on kindness hosted by The Kerrville Daily Times. The program culminates Thursday with a speech by author Tim Madigan, who chronicled his friendship with the late host of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”

Tuesday, however, was all about the works of the students from around the area. Submissions were made by students from Starkey, Notre Dame, Nimitz Elementary, and Hal Peterson Middle School.

For weeks, La Rue had painstakingly curated the works, and when it came to standout work, it was Orta’s that stood the tallest.

That did not surprise her teachers at Starkey.

“She is very artistic,” Starkey Elementary School teacher Jody Schwartz said during a reception held at Schreiner University on Tuesday night. “She brought me her portfolio one day and I said ‘Paulina this is beautiful,’ and so Mrs. La Rue saw it and said, ‘This is gorgeous.’”

Orta was recognized as one of the outstanding young artists at the show. Orta said her parents encourage her to draw and paint and that her dad is always telling her how much he enjoys her paintings and drawings.

“Since I was a little girl, my dad has always encouraged me,” Orta said.

Another teacher, Melinda Herrada, who teaches bilingual education, has marveled at Orta’s ability to take command of English, including translating for her mother, who only speaks Spanish.

“Like her art, I would think it’s a very colorful and vivid life ahead of her,” Herrada said.

One of her favorites that was displayed was a still life of a tray of vegetables, but she also submitted nine stellar pieces.

“I love it, honestly,” said Orta’s friend and fellow classmate Jade Sill, adding her favorite was one that Orta painted of the two of them together on a swing.

While the children in attendance may not know who Fred Rogers was, they certainly respected the ideas of kindness and friendship.