Drawing Inspiration from Portrait Project

Drawing Inspiration from Portrait Project

Imagine you are going through a challenging and traumatic experience – homelessness, abuse, extreme poverty – and then one day a personalized gift made especially for you arrives from the other side of the globe. It’s a one-of-a-kind portrait of you, created by someone you’ve never met, from another country. 

UPDATE April 6, 2020: Click here for a video of the Malaysian children receiving their portraits.

Silver Creek High School art students were invited to participate in The Memory Project during the 2019-2020 academic year by creating and sending portraits of child refugees in Malaysia in hopes of connecting, uplifting, and encouraging them. The children they created portraits of are from ethnic minorities across southeast Asia, and many are from the Rohingya ethnic group.  They have few personal belongings to call their own.  

“One thing all children in our program have in common is that they are either facing or overcoming difficult challenges, and they inspire us with their courage and resilience,” says art teacher Paul Abate. “Creating portraits for them is our artistic way of showing support and honoring their strength.”  

Under Abate’s guidance, the students teamed with the nonprofit The Memory Project, to create the works of art. The group’s mission is to invite art teachers and their students to create portraits for youth around the world who have faced substantial challenges such as neglect, abuse, loss of parents, violence and extreme poverty.   

“I believe art can be used as a way to benefit and bring joy to others, it is a universal language that has a way of impacting people greatly,” says Abate. “I want reinforce with my students that doing things for others without expectation or receiving something in return is a valid life lesson.”

Every child who receives a portrait has a different story. Some live in refugee camps, others have lost their families, and others live in severe poverty. The recently finished portraits are being mailed to The Memory Project headquarters in Middleton, Wisconsin. They will then be delivered to the children Malaysia. 

“I am so fortunate to have such talented art students in my classes, and it is a special experience to have the opportunity to use this artistic talent to support and encourage children on the other side of the world,” says Abate.  “I hope that when my students created these portraits of the children from Malaysia they know they are making a difference in the life of another.”

For more information visit The Memory Project