Their faces hung all across the gallery as individuals moved from one portrait to another. Every piece tells a story about a young child who has faced great difficulties in their life. As viewers observed the murals, there was a slight buzz in the air. A feeling of love and appreciation filled the atmosphere and it was directed towards those children depicted on the canvas.
The Memory Project, founded in 2004, is a charitable nonprofit organization that invites art teachers, art students, and solo artists to help cultivate global kindness by creating portraits of children around the world who have faced substantial challenges, such as violence, war, extreme poverty, neglect, and loss of parents. This year, the MHS National Art Honor Society participated and made it their job to create these portraits to help the children feel valued and important, as well as to provide a special childhood memory in the future.
“In Rakhine Myanmar, a developing country, children face challenges that are caused by poor conditions there, such as having to live in refugee camps or nearly experiencing genocide,” President of the NAHS Victoria Vu said. “The Memory project focuses on creating lively portraits as special gifts for these children.”
Each year the program partners up with different charities around the world to help create a portrait for every child and their story. In some cases, this portrait may be the only thing that children will physically have to remind them of their childhood.
“I decided to participate because it reminded me of my cousins and mother from the Philippines who lack record of their childhood,” Senior Chamille Diaz said. “[Instead] the memory of their childhood is spread by word of mouth. Hearing about this opportunity reminded me of family, and it made me glad to know that I would be contributing to a part of a child’s life that they would cherish forever.”
NAHS’ purpose is to service the community through art, and the project was ideal in fulfilling that as the Memory Project is meant to help these children know that many people care about their well being.
“I really wanted to make an impact because the global refugee crisis is a major pressing issues,” Senior Alexis Cross said. “I felt helping the children have a portrait of themselves would allow them to have something to cherish forever since many of the kids don’t have personal items or photos of themselves they own.”
The Memory Project is a great way for the art community to help give back to those that have been given an unfortunate situation. Ben Schumaker, the founder of the Memory Project, created it so that kids can have a sense of their heritage. For some children, this is the first image they have seen themselves, and for most it is one of their most sentimental possessions. Because they know that somewhere out there, there is an artist who made that portrait just for them.“