Since 2008, Amity High School (AHS) art students have created over 400 portraits for disadvantaged children all around the world through an organization called The Memory Project. Children in Honduras, Peru, Indonesia, Sierra Lione, Rwanda, Mexico, Haiti, Ghana, Bolivia, Congo, and Russia have received portraits of themselves created by AHS students, and the joy expressed by the artists and the children is always overwhelming.
AHS students were midway through their Memory Project portraits when schools went remote in March 2020. The portraits remained on the classroom drying racks, in students’ portfolios, or at students’ houses for many months. In the fall, all of the portraits were gathered and sorted, and this year’s art students made it their mission right at the beginning of the school year to complete or re-start every portrait the school committed to. Students in Drawing and Painting II and Honors Art completed 67 beautiful portraits, which were then sent to The Memory Project organization in Wisconsin. From there, they were brought to Russia by Memory Project staff, and hand-delivered to the children. This has generally been the process every year, but Covid has made student participation and travel a big challenge for The Memory Project, and when the AHS portraits were received, a reply was sent from the organization’s founder, Ben Schumaker, “WOW! Truly, I am blown away to receive this incredible package! It has become so rare in the past six months to receive a package of so many wonderful portraits, and what a treat it is! Thank you, thank you, and thank you. The kids in Russia will be so excited to receive them, especially since their lives are now so much more isolated than before. I hope you stay well over the weeks and months ahead, and we will stay in touch as always!” – Ben
Last week, AHS art students received a video in which they can watch their portraits being delivered to the children in Russia for whom they were created. It is impossible to describe the beautiful reactions from both the children and the art students. There were definitely some tears shed. AHS art students will create more Memory Project portraits this spring, and they are very much looking forward to it.
None of these accomplishments would have been possible without the constant support from the Jamie Hulley Arts Foundation. Since 2008, the foundation has fully funded AHS’s involvement (which costs $15 a portrait). The foundation has donated over $6000 so that AHS art students can have this experience, and so that kids all over the world can receive a unique and beautiful portrait of themselves. These children are often living in refugee camps, orphanages, group homes, or temporary housing due to natural disasters or extreme poverty. The portraits are often one of their few personal possessions. To see their reactions from this winter’s delivery, watch this beautiful video, https://vimeo.com/memoryproject/january2021. To learn more about the Jamie Hulley Arts Foundation or make a donation to its wonderful cause, visit https://jamiehulleyartsfund.org/.