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Lorna Kretchmar is the most dynamic, creative, and lastingly influential teacher we have ever encountered. We have known quite a few high school art teachers in our lives, but never before have we come across one with Lorna’s ability to bring forth such creativity from so many of her students. As you can see in this two-gallery exhibit, not just a few but nearly all of the works by her students are of the very highest quality, both technically and conceptually. Throughout Lorna’s career, her students have won the lion’s share of the prizes in whatever contests they have entered, including a large number of gold medals in the highly competitive national Scholastic Art Competition.


Lorna’s classroom at Oberlin High School is a work of art in itself. Her students paint the walls, the ceiling, the desks, the chairs, even the trash cans. Because so many students through the years have been lined up on waiting lists trying to get into her studio art classes, she hasn’t had time in her schedule to teach the art history classes she would have liked to add to the curriculum. She has, instead, found amazingly creative ways to bring art history to her students.


Each graduating senior has the opportunity to select a favorite artist and then paint a portrait of him – or her – on the wall of the “art room,” often with a reproduction of one of that artist’s works, also painted by the same student, nearby. The room is now filled with the likenesses of Picasso and Van Gogh and Michelangelo and many others – to such an extent that simply walking into the room becomes its own lesson in art history. Students through the years have also participated in the creation of a “timeline” of art, around the upper portion of the walls near the ceiling. It begins with cave paintings and moves through all the eras and schools of art to the most contemporary, with all of the examples painted by students, who leave spaces between their contributions for future young artists to fill in as they choose.


Lorna has also given her classes the opportunity to celebrate the birthdays of some of the great artists of the past, with, for example, French desserts for Monet’s party and Italian ones for Caravaggio’s. Few students are likely to forget experiences like these.


Never at a loss to make art a part of the lives of everyone around her, Lorna recently had her students paint the doors of all the classrooms in the high school with scenes that reflect what is being taught inside – math, science, literature, whatever it may be. Also, for a number of years, her students have painted banners to hang from lampposts in downtown Oberlin.


Best of all, though, in our opinion, is the positive and lasting effect Lorna has had on so many of her students’ lives. Through the years, quite a few graduates of the Oberlin High School Art Department have entered art-related professions around the world. Those that we know of have included three curators of museums in the United States and Europe; the art directors of such magazines as the New Yorker, Travel & Leisure, and Seattle Today; the head art director for the State of Ohio; the former BBC art director for Asia; professors of art at Ohio University and the University of Chicago; many elementary and high school art teachers; two owners of successful graphics companies; three art therapists; and a corporate trainer who uses his art to help executives set life and corporate goals.


Even Hollywood has had a Lorna Kretchmar influence: two illustrators at the Disney Studios and the head film editor for the CSI Crime series. All of this from a very small high school of just over 300 students. And all because of Lorna’s skill and passion.


The entire Art Committee here at Kendal takes this opportunity to salute Lorna Kretchmar for all that she has given to her students, to Kendal at Oberlin, to the town of Oberlin, and to the world at large.


Robert Taylor and Ted Nowick
Friends Gallery Coordinators


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Over forty art works by Lorna’s 10th, 11th and 12th graders were exhibited in the TRIBUTE TO LORNA KRETCHMAR in Kendal’s Friends and Community galleries in November and December, 2010. Most of these works are pastels, acrylics, and charcoal drawings on paper, canvas, or board. The ones posted below are representative of the range and variety of subject matter explored, and of different techniques and styles used, in many of the works.


Of the four “city” pictures, two focus on material objects---an iconic Chicago sign, a close-up of a wall plastered with bills; the third imagines in soft pastels a reflection of pre-9/11 Manhattan; the fourth, in the brilliant primary colors and geometric patterning of a Mondrian painting, captures, in a striking image, the artist’s “My Manhattan.”


“Decade in Stamps” recalls aspects of the culture and spirit of the ‘40s---film and music (Disney and Sinatra), style and high fashion in contrast to women and the war effort. “Explosion” brings immediately to mind the bombing of Japan, and at the same time through collage other scenes of horror and mass destruction. “World Hunger” speaks graphically of global hunger and for aid, through the mound of rice and, upon closer examination, realizing that the panel on which the picture is painted is covered with rice.


Included in the exhibition were a number of pictures of animals (photographs not available), two of the finest of which are the highly dramatic pastel of silhouetted horse and girls and the calm and serene portrait of bird and cactus.


Photographs by Paul Schwaegerle. Notes by Carl Peterson.