Advanced Art Students Participate in the Memory Project
October 19, 2023
Thetford Academy’s Advanced Art students recently completed portraits of children living in orphanages in Columbia. These portraits were made for the Memory Project, a nonprofit that aims to “create a kinder world through art.”
Founded by Ben Schumaker in 2004, the Memory Project began with Shumaker’s passion for connecting youth around the world through art “to help build cultural understanding and international kindness.” At TA, participating in the Memory Project is an integral part of the Advanced Art curriculum, demonstrating the powerful connections that art can create.
The Memory Project’s first intention, according to Schumaker, was to provide handmade, heartfelt portraits as special memories to children in orphanages. Today, the organization’s mission has expanded to reaching youth around the world who are facing many types of challenges. Creating portraits is an intimate process, and a powerful way to connect student artists with their subjects. Schumaker wants students to “reach a distant destination: a kinder world in which all students see themselves in one another – regardless of differences in appearance, culture, religion, or circumstance.”
Before mailing the portraits to their subjects, students write their name, age, and a brief note to their recipient. They trace their own hand as a symbolic way for the recipient to touch the person who made the art. TA has been participating in the Memory Project since 2008 and Visual Arts teacher Karyn Neubauer says that each year, “Students connect with their subjects as real people. They get a sense of how art can connect people without needing a common language, because art is the language.”