Kindness Drives Art in The Memory Project

Ms. Jam Giubardo 

Since 2008 CVU advanced drawing and painting and AP studio art classes have participated in the memory project. The memory project is a charitable nonprofit organization that invites art teachers and their students to create and donate portraits to youth around the world who have faced substantial challenges, such as neglect, abuse, loss of parents, violence, and extreme poverty. Not only does it have a huge impact on the kids who receive the portraits but it also greatly impacts the students creating the portraits.

The Program receives photos of children and teens from global charities operating residential homes, schools, and care centers in a number of different countries every year. Then They provide the participating art teachers with full-page color prints as well as digital copies of those photos, along with plastic sleeves to protect the finished portraits.  The art teachers then work with their students to create the portraits, and we hand-deliver them to the kids.  We always try to have several different portraits for each child, created by different art students and based on different poses.

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Since 2004 they have created more than 100,000 portraits for children in 43 countries. When this year is finished CVU will have sent 461 portraits all around the world: Ukraine, Peru, Afghanistan, Haiti, Ghana, Romania, Syria, and now Tanzania. This year children from Tanzania will receive portraits from CVU, and this is particularly meaningful because we have a student from tanzania participating in it. He really understands the plight of his people and has helped us form a more tangible connection to the people in the portraits. The students in advanced drawing and painting have practiced portraits for a couple months and will be completing them in water color. The AP art students got to choose the media they wished to complete the portraits with.

Abbie Bowker, advanced drawing and painting teacher at CVU, was asked what the project meant to her. She responded with, “I feel that we have a real opportunity to be ambassadors for our country, showing great kindness in a time where our government and much of our society seems to be turning a cold shoulder.  My students rise to this challenge again and again, never ceasing to do their best work, and in this way show incredible kindness.This project is deeply meaningful work.  So often we create artwork for our own pleasure, or to display art for aesthetic reasons – making the world more beautiful – but here, this is an opportunity for our students to make the world a more beautiful place to be.

Briana Kolibas, a sophomore in advanced drawing and painting, was asked what it meant to her to be participating in this activity. She said, “I like how we’re doing something that means a lot to the kids that don’t have as much as we do. It shows them that people do care.” Colby Chatoff, a junior also in drawing and painting, said, “I think it’s a good way to do something nice and brighten someone’s day.” Many other students agreed, which shows that the project means a lot to the students and allows them to make art for a greater purpose than just a grade.

To learn more about the project or donate to the kids go to