Ms. Haley Vespa
Since 2008, the CVU art community has participated in the Memory Project, giving back to the world in just one small step through small acts of kindness.
According to the organization’s website, the Memory Project is a charitable non-profit that encourages teachers, students, and solo artists to participate in creating portraits for youth all across the world who have faced significant challenges such as abuse, violence, war, poverty, neglect, and loss of family. “Our participants create these portraits to help children feel valued and important, to know that many people care about their well-being, and to provide a special childhood memory in the future.”
The portraits that participants create for children in traumatic life situations are meant to encourage self-worth, as well as let them know others see them and their struggles.
Every year, the program receives new photos of children and teens from charities all around the world, and every new child has a different background.
Abbie Bowker, an art teacher at CVU and participant of the project, says that, “in the past, we’ve sent out photos to Ukraine, Afghanistan, Haiti, Ghana, Romania, Syria, and Tanzania. This semester, we’re sending out 33 portraits to children in Peru.” All participating art teachers and art programs such as the Visual Arts Department at CVU receive colored prints, as well as digital copies of the photos.
Since 2004, The Memory Project has created over 130,000 portraits for children in 47 countries. When the portraits are finished, they are delivered back to the children of whom are portrayed.
Sydney Glickman, an AP Art student who is participating in the project, shared her thoughts. ”I thought the project [was] a great idea for art students to create work that’s more for the pleasure of someone else rather than a grade.” Glickman is currently working on her second portrait, and she said she would love to repeat the process. She said, “I would do it again because when we were sent the video of the children receiving [the portraits] from last year’s Memory Project… watching the excitement of the children was so amazing and made me feel so happy for them.”
The Memory Project is based on cultivating kindness through seemingly small, yet very large acts. Not only are these participants building awareness of the very serious and current issues happening around the world, but they are creating a glimmer of happiness for these children. Sometimes, the littlest acts can have the most impact.