Hi everyone! I hope you’ve had a great week!
When I was in high school, some of the art classes would partake in a program called The Memory Project. The Memory Project is a nonprofit organization that works to promote unity across different cultures and bring joy through art. My school always participated in the portrait program. The idea is to create portraits of children in different countries who may be facing challenges to give them something personal that will inspire hope and happiness – to show that they are valuable. I had participated in this when I was a junior, and was looking forward to doing so again my senior year. However, due to Covid, we couldn’t do it. A few weeks ago, my high school art teacher reached out to ask if I wanted to do a portrait for him, and I was so excited to say yes!
This year, my high school worked with children from India. The organization works with dozens of countries that each participating school can pick from. I believe that when I did this my junior year, the children were from Pakistan. Other countries include Afghanistan, Syria, and the Philippines. The organization makes a video of the children receiving the portraits, and watching it is just so inspiring. I watched the video from Syria in 2019, when the portraits were sent to refugee children, and it really struck me how much of an impact art can truly have. Many of the children became inspired to learn to draw and paint on their own, but I think the most important outcome was that the children felt important. A girl featured in the video had sent her portrait to her grandmother to show her that there were people who did care about refugees. You can watch the video here.
I’ve said before that art is a driving force that can bring people together. During quarantine, many people turned to forms of art for comfort. I don’t find that surprising, since art as always been a means to provide entertainment and beauty. It’s no wonder that these children find so much joy in seeing themselves as art and knowing just how important they are. I feel fortunate that I could bring that to a young child who needs it, and I think that will be something I carry with me in everything I do as an artist.
Here was my piece for this year. I’m exciting for this girl to receive it, and I hope maybe she finds inspiration in it to pursue and become whatever she wants to be.