Heartwarming Reunion Brings Together Artist And PaintingJan. 12, 1998
A unique and heartwarming presentation that reunites a young woman with the painting she created as a child will take place at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 13, at the Ollie Mae Moen Discovery Center. More than 20 years ago in Ireland, a 12-year-old girl named Carolyn O'Leary drew a picture as part of the program "Hands Around the World." That picture ended up at the Discovery Center, the children's museum of Baylor University's Strecker Museum Complex.
On Tuesday, Carolyn O'Leary Wheelen, who now lives in Texas, will be presented with the painting that she created 23 years ago. Wheelen's parents, who are visiting from Ireland, and Dr. Geoffrey Grimes, who directed the original "Hands Around the World" project, also will attend the presentation.
"Hands Around the World," which began in 1974 as a national bicentennial project between the people of DeSoto, Texas, and the Republic of Guatemala, was an exchange of children's art between Texas students and children from more than 60 nations. In 1975, Irish students from the Community School in Millstreet, Ireland, participated in the program. O'Leary, a sixth-grader at the time, drew a picture of her home decorated for Christmas.
All Irish students who participated received a certificate and ribbon, but due to an error, O'Leary failed to receive her certificate. After many phone calls and telegrams, she finally received her certificate and at that point decided that she wanted to come to the United States.
"This is an especially touching story," said Calvin Smith, director of the Strecker Museum Complex, "because Mrs. Wheelen would not be in this country had it not been for her participation in this project. Fortunately, even after all these years, we were still able to locate her work. As the painting means so much to her personally, we have recorded it photographically and will be able to return the original to her on Tuesday while her family is visiting in the United States."
The Texas Cultural Alliance, which continued the original DeSoto project of exchanging art of Texas children with the art of children from six countries, donated the entire collection of "Hands Around the World" to the Strecker Museum. Wheelen's painting is one of the several hundred works of art from the collection on display at the Discovery Center.
The Ollie Mae Moen Discovery Center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The Center is located at 815 Columbus with the entrance on 8th Street. For more information, call
710-4836 or 757-0922