Conclusion drawn: artists' workshop a total success
The return of a respected artist to Westlake High School on Dec. 8 was “bread cast upon the waters.” And for Martin O’Connor his return to the place where his talents were honed proved to be a satisfying and rewarding experience.
Several weeks ago, Jean Driggs, Westlake Westshore Arts Council president, contacted WHS art teacher Kelly Atkinson to propose that a visiting artist spend a day with art students. Following some discussion and meetings, the WWAC proposal was accepted and O’Connor, a 1990 WHS graduate, was commissioned to conduct the day-long workshop.
Art students recognized to have exceptional abilities were invited to participate and 27 students, from all four grade levels, enrolled for the day-long workshop.
Driggs visited the class mid-day and watched as O’Connor drew an eye on the board. “The class was spellbound, that is the only word to describe them,” she said. Later in the day it was evident that although the students worked intensely, their level of concentration and absorption with their work never diminished.
When asked her opinion of the workshop, student Annabella Krupa said, “I am working with techniques I never used before. It’s really cool.” Art teacher Atkinson also expressed pleasure for the opportunity to have a visiting artist of O’Connor’s experience and stature work with the students. She called the workshop a terrific experience, adding, “We could never do this on our own, we don’t have the funding.”
Displaying sincere interest and pleasure, O’Connor made continuous rounds of each art table to observe, suggest or answer questions. The artist’s own work, which was available for viewing on slides, is impressive in volume and quality. There is an incredible reality about his portraits, cityscapes and everything in between. O’Connor said some of his cityscapes were drawn from photos he took when he was in high school, adding that some of those real sights no longer exist.
O’Connor received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting from the Cleveland Institute of Art and has taught painting classes and workshops for 20 years and has over 13 years of experience as a professional mural artist and surface designer. He maintains a studio in The Screw Factory in Lakewood.
Driggs is pleased that the WWAC could provide the workshop as part of its mission of fostering art at all levels and hopes the group will be able to support the WHS art workshop again next year.
Publicist for Westlake-Westshore Arts Council