Advanced Art Students Draw for the Big Picture

What began as a flyer in art teacher Chelsea Baber’s school mailbox became a meaningful mission project for four advanced art students.

The flyer introduced and explained the mission of The Memory Project, a charitable nonprofit organization that invites art teachers and their students to create and donate portraits to youth around the world who have faced substantial challenges, such as violence, disasters, extreme poverty, neglect, and loss of parents. This year, they focused on Syrian refugees.

“As soon as I saw the flyer I started to research what it was all about,” Baber said. “I knew it was something I wanted my students to do. The Memory Project sent me pictures of Syrian refugee children who have lost everything because of the war, and we’re sending the hand-drawn portraits back to them to encourage them and lift their spirits.”

The advanced art students were excited to work on an assignment that would not only challenge them artistically but would also make an impact on people across the world. According to the artists, focusing on accurately portraying faces of children who had survived traumatic experiences brought a sense of purpose to the project.

“This is the first mission project we’ve ever done for art class,” senior Hattie Smith said. “Most of the projects we work on are for us, and we’ll give them to our moms or friends. We’re giving this to someone we don’t know – someone we’ll probably never meet.”

Portraits are a notoriously difficult type of artistic expression, but Mrs. Baber said she knew her students were up for the challenge. Junior McKenna Moore said she enjoyed the beginning of the process of creating the facial outlines with interesting shapes, while junior Diane DeLuca said the end result was her favorite part.

“The best part of the process for me was the end because I worked really hard, and when I got to take a step back and see how similar the two were, that was a great feeling,” DeLuca said. “It was really cool to see all of my hard work paying off for such a good cause.”

Since its creation in 2004, The Memory Project has delivered more than 100,000 portraits from children in 43 countries. The portraits help children feel valued and important and will act as meaningful pieces of personal history in their future. The artists who create these portraits are able to practice kindness and global awareness in a way that will stay with them for years to come.

Once the portraits have been delivered, The Memory Project will send Mrs. Baber a video of the children receiving the drawings so CAC students are able to directly see the impact of their hard work.

“It was super encouraging and I enjoyed the whole process from beginning to end,” Baber said. “I did watch (my students) struggle and get frustrated at some points, but we were always reminded of the mission behind it and that made it worth it.”



This year’s portraits will be on display at the Fine Arts Show Sunday, December 17, in the atrium beginning at 1:00 p.m.
Click here to learn more about The Memory Project.