Stroke of creativity

Art Club draws memorable portraits of orphans in Afghanistan

Story by Victoria Van, editor in chief

One piece of art contains the power to break international barriers and bring joy to a child’s life. This embodies the impact Art Club produced by participating with The Memory Project organization. Club members were paired with an Afghani child to draw and return back as a treasured gift. Members received the portraits in early April to draw and complete within a month. Portraits were delivered early June and the organization created a personalized video for the club to watch. There were a total of 14 portraits sent along with $15 donations.

Art Club participated in this project because the children living in impoverished conditions are limited in the amount of possessions they can treasure. Taking part of the project impacted each participating artist such as junior Adrianna Barrera on an emotional level.

“It seemed fun, and I wanted to just gain more experience in drawing portraits,” Barrera said. “This will affect the kids for the rest of their lives, and I wanted to be a positive influence on them by using art to make someone feel emotions. I felt happy when I started watching the video. I wanted to cry a little. I feel great about it, and I would do it again to make other children feel good about having a portrait.”

Art teacher Shea Phillips waited for months in order to see the children’s reactions to the art pieces. There were over 2,000 portraits submitted along with $4,000 for the children’s education.

“I was extremely excited when we got the video last week,” Phillips said. “I am thankful that Memory Project takes the time to compile a video for the participants. We were all teary eyed when we watched the video.”

On of the main reasons the club members decided to take on this project was to create happiness for another human being outside of our community.

“I think this has been a good experience for all members that participated,” Phillips said. “All the members that made a portrait took a lot of care and effort to create a keepsake for the orphans. The weight of the responsibility was not lost on our members; they poured their heart into the project. I think they feel more empowered to make a difference in the world through art.”

Out of this experience, members gained insight about the impact of this project and what it can lead to for the future of Art Club.

“Honestly, we didn’t expect to gain anything but a positive experience. We had no idea that this project would touch as many people as it has and impact our community in such a great way,” Phillips said. “We have received a lot of great attention for the project which shines a light on our amazing club.”

Some students utilized bright colors to personalize their portraits which showcased the versatility of each student and their passion for creating art.

“My motivation was knowing that someone somewhere was going to be happy and someone knows they exist,” senior Jenna Mitchell said. “It was heartwarming to see the smiling children and even though they’re in a terrible situation, they can still experience happiness. Even though you don’t get paid for it, it’s not a materialistic reward— it’s an emotional reward.”

Art Club will participate in a second Memory Project project with Rohingya children living in refugee camps.