The Art of Giving: Students learn to use their artistic skills for children in Afghanistan

Kayla Gornall

This summer, current honors Art II students will receive a video unlike anything they’ve ever seen before.

These Marian girls,  taught by Mrs. Lindsey Cisco, have embarked on a project that will travel far beyond the colorful walls of 307. The three Honors Art II classes have partnered with the Memory Project Organization to create a portrait of a child from Afghanistan, where violence and poverty is prevalent. This project is an opportunity to demonstrate to children across the globe that, even in the midst of their struggles, they are cared for. It’s a reminder that they are special, even to someone they do not know.

The Memory Project is a non-profit organization where young artists create a portrait of a child from a third-world country as a gift. The organization sends the artist a photo of the child they will be drawing. Each child has permitted the release of his/her photo. When the artist finishes the portrait, it is sent back to the country in which the child resides and is given directly to him/her. Each artist is allowed to include her own photo and write a sentence or two about herself, so the child can connect with the artist who gave the gift.

Cisco found out about the project from a teacher at Skutt last year. She wanted to do it as soon as possible, but did not have enough time to work it out last year. The organization requires a fee for each portrait. Marian was able to pay for $500 of the thousand the students need to fundraise for the price of the project. The students will fundraise for the other half in a bake sale in the coming weeks. The date is not yet official, so make sure to listen for an announcement.

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There will be 67 portraits of children produced. The portraits will be the students’ first portrait in Art II and will either be graphite or colored pencil. Students will spend about four to five weeks drawing them. When the 9×12 portrait is complete, they will be sent to the children through volunteers within the Memory Project. These volunteers will video the children’s reaction to the artwork and send it to the artist who created it. “I was surprised how the girls responded. Sometimes artists are attached to their work, but they were more than willing to send them,” Cisco said. The girls will be able to see their artwork bring smiles to the children they thoughtfully spent time depicting.

The three classes were all excited when Cisco told them about the project. The Memory Project website has sample videos of children that received others groups’ projects. Art II students watched these in class and were moved by the children’s reactions. Junior Caudia Archer is currently in Art II and is one of many who are thrilled to begin drawing. When I saw the faces of those children after they received their portraits, the first word that came to mind was “simplicity.” Our world is full of greed, but their hearts were full of love and appreciation,” Archer said.

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