By Kevin Kelley
After being on display at a gallery in Westlake’s sister city of Tralee, Ireland, works of art by Westlake students in kindergarten through the 12th grade have returned home.
With them are works by Tralee students. Art by students from both cities are now on display at Westlake City Hall, 27700 Hilliard Blvd.
The Sister City Art Exchange was the idea of Marge Widmar, president of the Westlake-Westshore Arts Council and resident of Westlake.
Speaking at the Sept. 15 regular Westlake City Council meeting, Widmar, a retired art teacher, said the Westlake students’ participation in the exchange went far beyond just creating art.
“They are learning to apply critical thinking, which is a goal of education,” Widmar said. For example, students will compare and contrast the subject matter and media between the works from Westlake and Tralee, she said.
Widmar told West Life that she was particularly struck by a work by Heather O’Donnell, a Tralee high school student.
Done in just two colors, mustard and black, “Understanding” addresses the financial woes Ireland has faced in recent years.
The work includes a newspaper pull quote that reads “I understand how banks can drive people to suicide.”
“The subject matter deals with banks, pensions, unions and emotional state,” Widmar said, adding that it’s also relevant to the current economic climate in Ohio.
Widmar and her husband, Bob Scarr, traveled to Tralee in June to see the Westlake art displayed there.
“Our students’ work was received beautifully,” Widmar said.
“As a teacher, I told my students that part of expressing yourself with media and creating art was in sharing it,” she said.
“They were ambassadors for Westlake, Ohio,” she added.
Tralee students and teachers were particularly interested in Westlake students’ use of digital photography in their works, she said.
Exhibition hours are weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Sept. 30 and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 1.