By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

Long before she got her first violin, Kim Ockerman, 14, Keizer, would tuck a recycled egg carton, or really anything she could get her hands on, under her chin, and using a pencil, pretend like she was playing.

“She’s wanted to play the violin since she was tiny, two, three years old,” Kim’s mother Jessica said. “I played (cello) in a quartet with my friends and she was exposed to it.”

When Kim wasn’t using a pencil to pretend playing the violin, she was using the tool to draw.

Ockerman, who has a piece in the 10th annual K-12 exhibition “The Langauage of Art” at the University of Oregon’s Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, draws in her favorite notebook. (Submitted)

“I’ve drawn for as long as I could pretty much hold a pencil,” Kim said. “I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember.”

The drawing eventually turned to painting and the two hobbies, music and art, recently got Kim a seat in the Salem Youth Symphony and a spot in the 10th annual K-12 exhibition “The Language of Art” at the University of Oregon’s Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art.

While Kim submitted an acrylic portrait of her mother playing cello, she prefers to paint animals.

“I’ve been working on trying to paint more people because it’s newer for me to do,” Kim said. “I’ve always done animals. I have a hard time with hands because they’re weird to paint. So it’s a new thing for me to be doing.”

The exhibit, which runs through May 28, is also a first. Kim’s piece was one of 45 chosen from over 200 submissions.

“I had never really done anything like that before, a real exhibit, so this was pretty exciting for me,” Kim said.

Kim got her first violin from Uptown Music in the third grade when the Ockermans moved to Keizer from the Eugene area.

Kim takes private lessons from Eadie Anelli in Silverton.

“I played violin when I was little and I couldn’t make it sound like I thought it should,” Jessica said. “She (Kim) just picks it up and it sounds like it’s supposed to.”

Kim plays classical musical in the Salem Youth Symphony, which was also a change.

“It’s been interesting, very challenging,” Kim said.

“The music that they pick is really difficult but it’s really fun to play. I’ve never been in a symphony before. I’ve been in an orchestra so now I have the drums, woodwinds. It’s really fun to hear everything come together.

“I also like to play fiddle music. I like the Irish jigs. Those are fun to play.”

Kim went to Cummings Elementary and then Howard Street Charter School in Salem.

For high school, she enrolled in Oregon Virtual Academy, which has given her more flexibility to play music, draw and paint.

“It fits her style a little better,” Jessica said.

“She gets over stimulated with all the people. It’s very stressful for her so I think home schooling has let her relax a little bit and she’s shown a lot more creativity and more interest in what she wants to do.”

One of those interests is learning a foreign language—Russian.

“That’s going okay,” Kim said. “It’s a very difficult language.”

“She doesn’t do anything easy,” Jessica added.

The Ockermans attend a Jehovah’s Witness Russian congregation in Keizer, which has given both Jessica and Kim plenty of opportunities to practice the language.

“Everyone is out of their comfort zone because we have friends who are from Ukraine and Russia, they’re learning a new language and how to get jobs and we’re learning their language, so we’re all foreigners together,” Jessica said.

“I think it’s a great learning experience for her. It opens up the whole world because we know people from everywhere that have been everywhere and it makes the world accessible.”

Kim wants to continue to explore the world by traveling and then drawing and painting whatever she sees.

“That’s pretty much what I do. I draw and I paint and I play music,” she said.