Art project raises awareness, gives hope
“A picture is worth a thousand words.”
It’s the age old saying that everyone has heard of. Pictures document everything from special events to sad times to funny moments – all to be reminisced about later. They capture friendships, emotions, memories and more. In today’s fast paced world, snapping pictures of everything has become common practice. However, people often fail to realize that others in impoverished countries do not have these opportunities. Many do not have any way of connecting to the past or preserving their memories. They have little to nothing that reflects their self identity. That’s where the Memory Project comes in – a nonprofit organization seeking high school artists and teachers to create portraits of orphans from countries around the world. Ben Schumaker, founder and director of the project, started it in 2004 and since then it has only grown – with more than 30,000 portraits created and delivered to children in over 30 countries.
This year, 14 students from CHS, and art teacher Stephanie Rakos, are participating in the project. The participants recently received 15 photographs of children from Bolivia who have experienced adversities such as abuse, abandonment, loss of family etc. “This is an opportunity for [us] to give back and share a bit of [ourselves] with people, specifically children who have challenges in their lives,” Rakos said. The idea is to create a portrait that reflects the child’s personality to help them remember their childhood and give them something to call their own. Additionally, the portraits connect participants with the orphans and serve as a reminder for the children that they are important and cared for. “I think it’s meaningful that we are using our passion to produce something that can affect children in a way that they can feel happiness despite what they have been through,” freshman Joo-hee Lee said. Participants from CHS are just as excited to create the portraits as the children are to receive them.
“I believe this project is very touching,” senior Hope Martines said. “It [means] more than words can say to the person and I feel honored to be a part of it.” When the portraits are finished, they will be delivered to the children in Bolivia. As a reward, a video showcasing the children receiving the portraits and sharing them with their friends will be sent back to the artists.