Donna ISD’s Disciplinary Alternative Education Program (D.A.E.P.) is known for its highly structured environment designed to help students with disciplinary problems. But the school’s newly offered Art 1 class is an exception.

Teacher Sonya Tijerina’s students are allowed to interact and share ideas with each other while working on assignments. Their latest project is creating buzz and earned them a spot at the International Museum of Art and Science (IMAS) in McAllen where their artwork is on display for public viewing.

“They’re excited about having their artwork on display for everyone to see,” Tijerina said. “It’s the first time that they participate in something public like this. I’m very proud of them.”


Tijerina said the students poured their heart out into their artwork. “The collection is beautiful and really makes a statement when all 24 pieces are viewed together.”

Tijerina said they combined three aspects into one. “The Mini-Masterpiece art project idea is to recycle, research, then reproduce. First students recycled plastic soda bottles into bird feeders. Next, they researched the works and life of a famous artist assigned to them and wrote a narrative. Then, they reproduced the artists’ most famous work by painting it on the bird feeder.”

The students also learned a lot about the artist and about themselves. “These students can identify with some of the stories of these great artists. Some artists, like Vincent van Gogh were deemed unsuccessful during their lifetime. Van Gogh only sold one painting. It wasn’t until his death that he became famous. I think our students understand that sometimes people are misunderstood just like they may be misunderstood.”


Eleventh-grade student Mario Oviedo said this project has reinforced his passion for art. “I want to be a painter,” Oviedo said. “I’ve been painting since I was small so it’s a big part of my life. Some people may see that what we made was just a bird feeder but for me it’s amazing. It’s the key to my success and a good start in helping me become a painter in the future.”

Oviedo reproduced The Persistence of Memory by Spanish artist Salvador Dali onto his bird feeder. The image of Dali’s melting clocks makes the piece universally recognizable. Oviedo said that upon researching Dali, he discovered that they had creative similarities. “Art is like a process which can be applied in my own life. I learned about myself when I was painting his work.”

The Mini-Masterpiece Bird Feeder exhibit will be on display at the IMAS through May.