Most people from a young age are taught to give, and be open-handed and charitable. That comes with a feeling of accomplishment from doing a good deed. To show that they care, the Art Club has been involved in the Memory Project, where students duplicate portraits of underprivileged children in multiple foreign countries.
“As a human being, you want to help other people and do good things and you feel great about it,” Art Club sponsor Michael Leistner said. “I guess it’s just how we are as humans, and I see that in my students and in everyone else.”
The Memory Project is a non-profit organization that is able to give a needy child something a little special. The foundation reaches out to art teachers around the country to try to include and involve their students realistic drawing skills. They then create intricate portraits of children who have been abused, neglected, or are in financial distress. For the past three years, Art Club has done portraits for different countries each year of participation including India, Madagascar and Cambodia.
“Since this is a realistic style project, I don’t really sit down and say something like, ‘I’m going to work on this for a straight hour,’” sophomore Gabbie Fitch said. “I usually look at it, tweak my sketch, and maybe experiment with colors a bit once a week. I find it hard to focus on just one project and usually end up drawing on some scratch paper I have laying around.”
This charity all started in 2004 with Ben Shumaker. While in his university years, he discovered that most of these children do not have parents to take pictures of them growing up or even the advantage of owning any camera-related device. So he developed this organization to make sure that the children would have that opportunity to have history of themselves, also something to look back on when they get older.
“It’s great because everybody benefits,” Leistner said. “My students enjoy it, these guys get a little photo and I feel good too. I’m not making a portrait but it feels nice because I’m kind of orchestrating the whole thing. From what it looks like in videos, the kids that we send the pictures to seem to enjoy it as well.”
Art club members have been working once a week every few weeks to make sure that they can capture the big smiles on the little faces they’ve been drawing for a long amount of time. The portraits are going to be mailed in by Jan. 3 and then delivered to the children that are living in a home located in Madagascar soon after.
“I decided to be a part of the Memory Project because I like the idea of giving youth who wouldn’t usually have pictures of themselves growing up some sort of memento of their childhood,” sophomore Christina Turnbull said. “Thinking about how happy it might make someone makes all of the work completely worth it.”
There are still portraits in progress, but so far everything has been going smoothly. Everyone has been immensely excited to see the end results from putting so much time and effort into these significant projects.
“When you think of the world, most would say it’s an evil place,” Leistner said “but with people that are involved in this and working in these care centers it just really makes you feel good about everything else.”