Intermediate art students at Valley Heights create portraits for young children in Nigeria. The Memory Project is a non-profit organization, founded in 2004, that allows art teachers and their students to create original portraits of children from around the globe who face challenges such as severe poverty or abuse. The art exchange, also known as the Portrait Program, promotes intercultural awareness and creates an opportunity for children and teens from across the world to touch each others lives through art.
Kaci Smith, the art teacher at Valley Heights, learned about The Memory Project and its portrait exchange previously this year. In her intermediate art class, she created a second quarter project for her students, giving them the opportunity to participate in the Portrait Program. Each art student that chose to participate received the picture of a child from Nigeria, as well as information such as their first name, their grade in school, and their favorite color. Using the media of their choice, art students then began to design a portrait of their child.
Mrs. Smith’s students plan to finish the portraits before Christmas Break. On the back of their piece, they will trace their hand and attach a photo of themselves. In January, the portraits will be sent to Nigeria and given to their child. Haylee Whitson, one of the intermediate art students participating, commented on the opportunity by saying, “I’ve really enjoyed it because it brings meaning to the art I’m creating. And it makes me feel good knowing it’s going to someone else.”