National Art Honor Society participates in upcoming Memory Project,

Art has the ability to connect people despite language barriers. The Memory Project seeks to do this by giving thousands of children in orphanages across the world special hand-painted portraits with the hope of connecting children across the world through art. 

Schreiber’s chapter of the National Art Honor Society is dedicated to incorporating art into the school, community, and world at large.  In the past few years, the club has participated in all sorts of events, such as painting murals in Schreiber, creating cards for Cohen’s Children’s Hospital, face painting at PortFest, and decorating flower pots for Plant a Row for the Hungry (which can be seen at the Helen Keller Center, up and down Main Street, and at the Long Island Science Museum).  Schreiber’s National Art Honor Society, sponsored by HEARTS PW has recently announced its participation in this year’s Memory Project, an effort in which the group has been involved since 2012.  The Art Honor Society sent portraits to Bolivia in 2017, Haiti in 2018, and, most recently, Myanmar in 2019.

In 2004, Ben Schumaker, a student at the University of Wisconsin, came up with the idea of the Memory Project.  He wanted to help children all over the world come together to appreciate one another’s cultures and create a better, more caring world.  The non-profit has spread all over the country, and it has gained a lot of recognition, even being featured in an article in the Washington Post.  

“The Memory Project gets its name from its first intention, which was to provide handmade, heartfelt portraits as memories to children in orphanages.  Now our intention has expanded to touching the lives of youth around the world facing many types of challenges, while opening our hearts and minds so they can touch our lives in return,” said Schumaker in a letter on the founder’s website.

Essentially, the Memory Project connects art teachers, their classes, and kids around the world who have endured hardships such as poverty, neglect, natural disasters, and loss of parents.  First, the art teacher has to fill out the project’s signup sheet and connect their class.  Then, the non-profit matches the class with children on the waiting list and sends their photographs.  In the photographs, the children hold up signs with their name, age, favorite color, positive words, and interests.  After receiving the photographs, art students all over the world can choose to create either a portrait or an inspiration artwork (any drawing or painting that centers around the three positive words the child sent).  Students can use any two-dimensional medium, and the work can be done on any type of paper.

Each year, we have about 25-30 participants from ninth to twelfth grades who showcase their unique art styles and skill sets.  Some of the artwork is charcoal, others oil paint, and some even digital,” said Ms. Nicole Thomas, the advisor of Schreiber’s chapter of the National Art Honor Society.

Once they finish their pieces, the class mails the collection of portraits to the Memory Project headquarters, and the artworks are sent all around the world.  After the children receive their art, the Memory Project is then able to video them reacting to their package, and these videos typically bring smiles to the artists’ faces.  So far, the Memory Project has delivered art to over 300,000 children in 55 different countries.

“Together, we are using art to reach a distant destination: a kinder world in which all youth see themselves in one another regardless of differences in their appearance, culture, religion, or the circumstances of their lives.  Millions of other people in our society are traveling towards this same destination by many different methods,” said Schumaker in a letter from the founder.

The Memory Project is a rewarding and fulfilling experience to help create something meaningful for disadvantaged kids.

The National Art Honor Society takes pride in their community service efforts and loves connecting with young children around the world to show them they are cared for and appreciated.  Every portrait that is made for the Memory Project is done with warm intentions and aims to put a smile on its recipient’s face,” said Ms. Thomas.