Xavier Magazine

Many Happy Returns

Hearing the strains of rock music blaring over a teenager’s radio can often inspire a parental headache. However, when Cincinnati artist Barbara Widmeyer Trauth heard her 16-year-old daughter listening to the song “With Arms Wide Open” by Creed, it inspired something else: art.

“In the song, a man finds out his wife is pregnant and he’s singing to his unborn son. I thought about that in relationship to Christ,” says the 1969 Edgecliff graduate. “When I saw the World Trade Center and the position of the façade as it fell, it reminded me of arms. I imagined Christ was absorbing all those people. That He was the one there when the towers fell. It was my way of dealing with the horror of September 11.”

Trauth’s piece, “With Arms Wide Open,” was one of 23 works chosen for an alumni art show in the Gallagher Student Center. Alumni submitted more than 40 works, with faculty selecting the final pieces.

“I loved how there was such a variation of artwork,” says 1992 graduate Holly Schapker, whose oil painting was on display. “We all had such different expressions. The art department took great care in giving us our own personal expressions instead of just one look.”

Media in the show ranged from clay and oils to stained glass and fiber art to photos and prints, such as the one submitted by Maggie Denk-Leigh, a 1996 graduate. Now an instructor at the Cleveland Institute of Art, Denk-Leigh’s piece, “Destination Unknown,” is a cityscape of Cleveland. She says the nostalgic air behind it draws people in no matter what city they’re from.

Denk-Leigh experienced her own sense of nostalgia at the show’s opening, remembering what it was like to be an art student in college.

“When you’re going through your education, you are inspired by the people around you. It’s nice to see their growth and for them to see yours. And it’s nice to see everyone who is still doing their art.”

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