River Hennick: Dedication to Art Through the Years


Abbie Davis

River Hennick is sitting in her room with a paintbrush in hand. She has been painting for over an hour and has completely lost track of time. Hennick is immersed in her sketchbook and could sit painting forever.

Hennick, a sophomore at Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy, has been doing art for as long as she can remember.

“I’ve been drawing ever since I was a really little kid,” says Hennick. “I don’t actually know when I started drawing; it just has been something that has continued throughout my life.”

She started taking art classes when she was young. Her mom took her to a wide variety of classes at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art when she was 3,  and she has not stopped since.

“In the past I’ve had some personal tutors, and more recently I’ve been going to some UMKC classes, and I’m enrolled in the art department there,” she says. Lately, Hennick has been taking classes such as figure drawing, and she has improved at drawing people, as well as working with charcoal. At UMKC, she took the classes Foundations and Advanced figure Drawing. “Both were amazing and had a lot to do with drawing people” says Hennick.

One of Hennick’s many talents includes drawing people. Photo courtesy of River Hennick.

Every year, for the past 3 years, Hennick has entered the Scholastic News Art Contest. Last year Hennick won a silver national medal, along with 4 gold keys. This year was the first year Hennick has won a national award through this contest. The gold keys are regional awards, and winning a gold key gives the artist a chance to be entered to win a national award. This is what happened with Hennick. She won, not 1, not 2, but 4 gold keys on the regional level, and then her art was sent to the national judges. She ended up winning a silver national medal, one of the highest possible awards that can be won.

Another contest Hennick has entered is the Lenexa sidewalk art contest where she won $100 for best in show.

Hennick also has done some other amazing things that include being on the Kemper Museum of Art teen arts council which keeps her busy. On this council, she is 1 of 12 teens who work together as a team. “We held a party at Kemper a few Fridays ago,” says Hennick, “It was awesome. There was a DJ, pizza, and art activities.” Currently, the council is planning on curating an art show.

“I am excited that I will have a piece published in the Johnson County Library literary magazine Elementia next month,” mentions Hennick.

For this summer, she was accepted into the Steinhardt Art Initiative at NYU. She was 1 of 52 high schoolers accepted from around the world. Hennick will be spending a month living at NYU, and at the end, she will have an opportunity to show one of her art pieces in the NYU East Village student gallery.

Hennick also has an internship at the Epsten Gallery at Village Shalom. “I help around with little tasks. It can vary from installation to organization” says Hennick.

Lately, her favorite style of art has been painting. She mainly uses acrylics and watercolors. On the HBHA Civil Rights trip this year, an eight day learning experience in the American South, Hennick painted many of her classmates and peers. “I like to paint anything,” says Hennick “I am interested in portraying something realistically.”

Hennick’s realistic pieces are incredible works of art. Photo courtesy of River Hennick.

She does not work with clay as often as she paints, but she nevertheless enjoys working in that medium. Another thing she likes to do is fashion sculptures out of materials she has found and has around her house.  “My favorite [materials] include … wire and masking tape,” says Hennick. For her Purim costume this year, she created a hat made out of paper that looked just like a dragon.

Hennick is an incredibly gifted artist, and it is exciting to imagine where she will go next.