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The Northwood Howler

The Student News Site of Northwood High School

The Northwood Howler

The Student News Site of Northwood High School

The Northwood Howler

The Memory Project: Giving back with art

PORTRAIT OF JOY: Freshman Jiyoung Yun created a char- coal portrait for Malak, a Syrian girl who enjoys writing stories. Photo provided by Kim Rohrs

The most meaningful gifts are not always the most expensive. For the past six years, artists in Northwood’s Drawing and Painting class have shared their love with children in orphanages and impoverished areas around the world through the gift of handmade, heartfelt portraits.

“The purpose of art is to share a story with others,” art teacher Kim Rohrs said. “We started participating in the Memory Project because their mission of using arts to create connections aligned with what I wanted to do in my classes.”

Founded in 2004, the Memory Project is a nonprofit youth arts organization that promotes cultural understanding and kindness across the globe. Each year, the organization works with partner charities to photograph thousands of children living in impoverished or war-torn areas. Using these photos, young artists create personalized artworks that provide comfort and encouragement to their new friends.

“For our Northwood students, it not only gives them practice in drawing portraits and learning different techniques, but it also spreads empathy, compassion and an understanding that the art that they make can have a greater connection than just being a personal object,” Rohrs said.

As part of the project, students learn about the children’s home country and some of the challenges that they face. Then, the class learns the basic techniques of shading, drawing facial features and adding texture before drawing their final portraits. A few months after Northwood’s students send out their finished artwork, the Memory Project shares videos of the children receiving their portraits.

“I liked that I could draw other kids and get to know them more because I know their hobbies, their dream jobs and their favorite things,” Drawing and Painting student freshman Jiyoung Yun said. “I am so excited to see their reactions because I get to see how they feel about my artwork.”

Rohrs hopes to continue encouraging her students to cultivate joy and connection through the Memory Project in the coming years.

“Our students get this really cool connection of seeing their artwork spread joy to someone else,” Rohrs said. “We see the kid’s smiles and the joy on their faces when they see their portraits, and there’s usually a lot of celebration, dancing, giggling and laughter in a place where that might not be as common.”

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About the Contributor
Lauryn Chew
Lauryn Chew, Staff Writer
Lauryn Chew is a sophomore staff writer for The Howler who rarely writes for the Viewpoint page. She's pretty easy to spot because at 6-foot-2, she towers over both her teachers and peers. One of her dreams is to meet My Melody.

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