There were drawings of Fourth of July fireworks and Halloween trick-or-treaters, sketches of Christmas carolers and Thanksgiving dinners.
Illustrating a range of skills and abilities, each piece of artwork on display at Meritrust Credit Union, 4821 W. Sixth St., venerates an American celebration. Each drawing was created by a Sunset Hill School student, and each will be shuttled to Glens Falls, N.Y.
As part of the World Awareness Children’s Art Exchange, the exhibit will travel from Lawrence to Glens Falls, then be sent to another school on a different side of the world. The art exchange is a traveling art show. Schools scattered all over the world — Asia, North America, Europe — swap artwork in exchange for displays from other diverse areas. More than 60 countries take part, and each exhibit has a six- to 10-week shelf life, at which point it will be shipped back to either Glens Falls or the place it came from.
Elementary art teacher Sheila Wilkins became interested in art exchange programs after taking a Kansas University course, “Kansas Consortium for Teaching About Asia.”
“One of the things that we did for that class was come up with an action plan,” Wilkins says. “So I started thinking of a way to bring my kids’ artwork from that region to use it as a teaching tool.”
The World Awareness Children’s Art Exchange seemed like a perfect match, Wilkins says, but with one obstacle — it would cost a few hundred dollars to participate. When an initial grant application was rejected, the project was resuscitated by an anonymous donor who covered costs for Sunset Hill to participate.
More than 300 student submitted artwork for the exchange, but Wilkins could only use a small sample. A panel of 12 judges, each with a background in art, had to prune the submissions from 300 to 30. It was a task Kim Kern says wasn’t easy.
"There were just so many,” Kern says. “There were many ambitious projects, and many that, had the students had just a little more time, would have really been amazing.”
A few characteristics marked the 30 winning entries as superior: detail, color and perception. Each winning picture provides a unique perspective to the universal theme of celebration.
Second-grader Addie Bay drew a sketch of a big brown horse soaring across a race track at the Kentucky Derby. Bay, 8, bundled in a pink jacket, and wearing a tan skirt with leggings, looks professional as she talks about her art.
“The Kentucky Derby was the only celebration I could think of that had horses in it,” Bay says. “I really like horses so I picked it.”
Fifth-grader Sarah Mecham also had work selected — a sketch of three girls singing Christmas carols — and credits her own meticulous attention to details.
“I was pretty happy mine was picked, but I wasn’t surprised at all, honestly,” she says. “If I don’t get something right (when I draw) I always go back and erase and redraw until I do.”
Mecham says her pencil sketch still needs color before it gets shipped off, but once she’s finished, she’ll be happy to share it with other schools.
“I think it’s a really cool program,” Mecham says. “We got to see art from a different part of the world, and now people in a different part of the world than us will have the chance to see our art.”