The #MariemontExperience: Students Featured in Cross-Continental Art Exhibit

Sixty Mariemont City Schools students have art pieces displayed in an exhibit called USA & Ukraine: Every Day in my Country. The exhibit, on display at The Barn September 10-15, features 120 works of student art, 60 from the Mariemont City School District and 60 from Kharkiv, Ukraine. The show will demonstrate the similarities and differences between growing up in these two cities on opposite sides of the world.

Leading the charge for this exhibit is Mariemont City Schools art teacher Shelley Komrska who spearheaded the partnership with Ukrainian art teacher Sergei Grichanok through the Cincinnati Kharkiv Sister Cities Partnership (CKSCP).

“Cincinnati and Kharkiv have been sister cities for 30 years” said Komrska. “This will be the second annual art exchange student show and when the CKSCP approached me about Mariemont participating this year, I was so excited for our students to be able to experience this opportunity.”

Through several email exchanges, Komrska and Grichanok settled on a theme of Every Day in my Country, a broad topic that allowed the students to express themselves individually while also showcasing the cultural patterns of each city. 

The two educators met in Cincinnati last year before Komrska made the return trip to Ukraine this past summer to visit friends and pick up the Ukrainian artwork. Following the show in Mariemont, all 120 pieces will travel to Kharkiv for a show in Ukraine in February.

The art exhibit is a glowing example of the Mariemont Experience in action. To better magnify the effect this show is having on the students and community as a whole, Komrska was asked to identify which components of the Destination 2026 Instructional Vision it amplifies:
  • Students will be global learners: “I think the first component for sure. You can’t help but notice the similarities and differences and appreciate the artwork from another culture. But one thing we are really trying to do with this show is create a dialogue. We are going to have sticky notes at the show for visitors to write messages to the Ukrainian artists. I would love for them to do the same when our artwork is in Kharkiv so we can communicate with the people across the world.”
  • Support organizations and volunteers will be an integral part of our work: “We have this new relationship with the CKSCP, and the Mariemont Arts Association (MAA) has been fantastic helping us with this exhibit. They gave us all of the money for the printed booklets you will see at the show and they are really excited about it. Also, we will have the high school chamber orchestra providing the music for the opening reception, so it is great to have two different arts being represented at the exhibit.”
  • Positive relationships will be strong among the staff, students, parents and the community: “I have heard from The Barn that people in our community are really excited to see this exhibit. The show will be hung in the loft space of The Barn which will actually be used for several other group gatherings while our show is on display. There could be a quilting group or a writing group that will also get to see the show that might not otherwise have seen it. There is also a Mariemont resident with ties to the Ukraine who is really looking forward to this exhibit, so we are definitely experiencing these positive community relationships before the show is even on display.”
  • Students’ individual interests and passions will always drive our work: “Some of the students chosen for the exhibit are some of our stars and others just really found their niche with this project. Either way, we know this show is going to encourage them. They are going remember this for a long time and hopefully spark new passions for future art projects.”

Komrska, along with fellow art teachers Ann Hobart and Melissa Marker, selected pieces representing a wide variety of grade levels at each school building. 

The show will be on display from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. September 10-13 and between 1-4 p.m. September 14-15. 

The exhibit will include an opening reception at The Barn (6980 Cambridge Avenue) on Friday, September 13 from 6-9 p.m. The Mariemont High School chamber orchestra will provide the musical entertainment and light refreshments will be provided.

To read more about the Mariemont Experience and the Destination 2026 strategic plan, click here.

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