Twenty-seven students of Lora Durr ‘s “Fine Art 1” at Hopewell Valley Central High School engaged in art activism with “The Memory Project,” a nonprofit organization which encourages art students and artists to cultivate global kindness by creating portraits of and for children around the world who have faced substantial challenges, such as violence, war, extreme poverty, neglect, and loss of parents.
These portraits help children feel valued and important, know that many people care about their well-being, and provides a special childhood memory in the future, according to the Memory Project website. Since 2004, more than 130,000 portraits have been created for children in 47 countries.
HVCHS art student participants each painted a portrait of a Syrian war refugee child, which have been displayed at school and at the Administration Building. Portraits will be sent to Syria to be distributed to the children sometime in March.
“[The Memory Project] mailed the photos and then the students selected a child,” explained Durr. “Then each student worked on a painting of that child, noting each child’s name, age and favorite color.”
The Board and District thanked the students at the January meeting, while viewing the artwork. “The emotion in the faces is amazing and the expression in their eyes is amazing,” said Hopewell Valley Regional School District Superintendent, Dr. Smith.
Some art students, who participated in the project, attended and spoke at the January Board of Education meeting.
“Students are more focused on their own struggles and this project helped us look outside of our own bubble to current events and other people’s,” shared one student.
“Activist art is vehicle for peaceful protect and this project shows how art can make social change,” said another student. “This allowed us to experience it first-hand because our art was making a difference.