This month, a number of students who have suffered loss of family from war or abuse in the Ukraine will be receiving a special surprise: portraits of themselves painted by Indian Hill Middle School students.
The program is part of The Memory Project, a charitable 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.
The goal is to help these children feel valued and important, to know that many people care about their well being, and to act as meaningful pieces of personal history. On the Indian Hill side, art teacher Laura Monahan saw this as a wonderful opportunity for students to do something meaningful, to give back to the broader community in a very personal way, while developing their artistic skills.
Eighteen students will be receiving portraits from Indian Hill eighth graders, painted in the “pop art” style of Andy Warhol. “It’s a hard-edge, simplified style,” Mrs. Monahan describes. “We took the photos we were sent and manipulated them on the computer. Students then use the child’s favorite color to paint the portraits.”
Students greatly enjoyed this special project, feeling like they were truly making a difference. When asked what they think the students will feel when they receive the portraits, Liz Dorger of Kenwood said, “I think the kids will feel hopeful and happy that someone cares about them. I think it will bring them some happiness.”
Annie Schumann of Indian Hill said, “I think they would be happy and excited thinking kids from a different country are painting them, taking time to think about them.”
Anna Wiot of Indian Hill said, “These kids always had to be removed from the situation. Once they receive these gifts, they for once wouldn’t be worried about what’s going on, and it will give them the opportunity to be a kid and be happy.”
Audrey Bristol of Indian Hill said, “They will have these [portraits] for the rest of their life. Whenever there is a hard situation, they will be able to look at it and it will bring them some happiness.”
And Sydney Poffenberger of Indian Hill said, “My child is only one year old, so she won’t react like the older kids. But I hope she looks at it in later years and really enjoy it.”
“You are all fantastic artists and you have such good hearts,” said Mrs. Monahan to her class. “At your age, it can be hard to make a difference, but this is one thing where we can see our talent can make a difference and give these kids a sense of hope.”
Once the portraits are complete, they are sent to The Memory Project to be distributed. The Memory Project will create a video of the students receiving their portraits to share back with the artists.
Learn more about The Memory Project at memoryproject.org/.