Always remaining interested in the arts throughout her life, Lorraine Balmuth Widman first served as the head of the art department within the Roseburg School District in Oregon from 1957 to 1960, and went on to found the sculpture and jewelry department at Clackamas Community College in Oregon City from 1968 to 1975. Following this, she worked as an art and drawing instructor at Oregon State University and Mount Hood Community College between 1975 and 1976. Before her retirement, she taught art, English and social studies within the Portland School District for almost 50 years, changing many students’ lives. In addition to this tenure, Ms. Widman was the exhibition coordinator for the Mittleman Jewish Community Center (MJCC) in Portland for a decade and a scorer for the National Board Certification in Art in San Francisco in 1996. She has also presented numerous workshops in the art education field, and has exhibited her work through an installation of 4’ x 8’ terra cotta reliefs at the MJCC.
When Ms. Widman was teaching English in Portland, she developed a unit called “Violence,” due to the increasing violence of Portland gangs. She was able to bring historical value by relating the violence in Portland to the Holocaust. Ms. Widman was able to send an essay to the state, written by one of her students, and the student won states award for the essay. Prior to the start of her career, Ms. Widman attended the High School of Music and Art in New York, now merged into the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music and the Arts, which allowed her to develop her abilities in art, as it was required that she take an exam for admissions. During this time, she created one of her first ceramic sculptures and was featured in The New York Times with a picture of her sculpture.
Shortly after she graduated high school, Ms. Widman attended Hunter College to take some history courses between 1950 and 1951, which she was also interested in. Since art was such a strong passion, she attended the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art from 1951 to 1952. Attending school in the evening while working in the Garment District in New York, Ms. Widman also worked for Que Magazine, now known as New York Magazine, in its circulation department in the evenings. She went on to attend the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Oregon, earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1954, and completed her education in art at the University of Oregon, where she obtained a Master of Fine Arts in 1956. She worked her way through school by working as a waitress at the Borsch Belt, which consisted of Jewish hotels in the Catskills and New Hampshire, where she had the opportunity to meet famous people while learning to work for dozens of people at a time. Additionally, she is a certified art and language arts teacher in the state of Oregon.
Civically, Ms. Widman served as a graphic designer, membership chair and member on the board of directors for the Young Audiences of Portland, as well as the vice president, membership chair and member on the board of directors for the Jewish Education Association, from 1972 to 1976. Additionally, she was a delegate, precinct worker and district leader for the Democratic Party of Portland from 1990 to 1997. Involved in a number of American-Israel relationship organizations, Ms. Widman also maintains involvement with several other organizations related to her field. Notably, she served the Portland Teacher’s Education Association as a bargaining representative from 1979 to 1997 and conference delegate from 1995 to 1997.
A prolific writer, Ms. Widman authored one book, “Sculpture: A Studio Guide to Concepts, Methods, and Materials,” in 1988 and has written several art exhibit reviews and manuals on sculpture. She was also the author, producer and anchorperson for a TV sculpture course from 1969 to 1973, and was commissioned by the Robinson Home in Portland to create commemorative menorahs in 1992. Furthermore, Ms. Widman designed and coordinated major architectural cast stone reliefs for the Clackamas Community College campus.