A Lincoln Elementary School kindergartener raised just over $900 for Beyond Hunger after hosting an outdoor gallery show, where she sold her original artwork. The young artist, 5-year-old Zoe Nied, showcased roughly 40 pieces on tables and hung up on clotheslines in her front yard, Sept. 19, where art collectors purchased all but a handful of her work.

“We had some very, very generous neighbors and family and friends, who contributed a lot,” said Nied’s mother, Kathrine Nichols.

The art show comprised roughly 40 pieces created by Nied during the state-mandated stay-at-home order and through summer. She used a variety of materials, including watercolor paints and markers, to create a variety of scenes.

“I tried to draw a person or a castle or something,” said Nied.

Other times, her work veered into the abstract and modern, demonstrating the breadth of her artistic eye.

“I made like lines everywhere and then colored them in,” said the artist.

Donating the proceeds of her artwork was entirely Nied’s idea.

Living in Oak Park, Nichols said her daughter regularly notices the people asking for help near highway exits and wanted to do something to raise money for them, but the art show wasn’t Nied’s first idea.

“Her original idea was to do a lemonade stand to raise money for people who needed a little extra help with, you know, everything going on,” said Nichols.

A lemonade stand during the COVID-19 pandemic seemed a little tricky to pull off, so they scrapped that plan.

 “Then she read a book where a character had an art show, so we combined the ideas,” said Nichols.

At her mother’s suggestion, Nied opted to donate the money to a charitable organization that would have the infrastructure to best share it among those in need. She chose Beyond Hunger, which she became acquainted with during her days in preschool at First United.

“They’re not affiliated or anything,” said Nichols. “But the food pantry is housed in the First United building.”

Having Beyond Hunger nearby made a deep impression on the budding young artist, who got to go on a tour of the food pantry as a preschooler and learned about the work it does.

The art show featured a special visiting artist who contributed work to the cause as well — 2-year-old brother C.J, who got lower billing than his big sister. 

“She made us put everything in a separate area for him,” said Nichols. “We had to have like ‘the little brother area.'”

 Everyone who came to the show wore masks and admired the art at an ample distance apart from each other. Nied sold all but a handful of the 40-odd pieces she displayed in her show — a roaring success for any artist. 

The experience turned out so well, Nied is already working on more art and planning on hosting future front yard art shows next summer.

“Hopefully the sickness will be done by next summer,” she said, “so I can hug people.”

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