By Ashleigh Garrison | March 16 marked an exciting evening at International Academy East—the annual art show! For Art club members, the show was an opportunity to showcase art that would eventually find its way to less fortunate children on a different continent. This art was created through Art Club’s partnership with The Memory Project. The Memory Project, a non-profit organization founded in 2004, enables art students from all around the world to create portraits of underprivileged children. These portraits are then hand delivered to the children by organization workers. Each member of IA’s Art Club involved was assigned a child and sent their photograph. They then had to create a portrait of the child—whether it be a drawing, painting, 2D image, or other media. Junior Tabassum Chowdhury said, “Everyone has their own style and it’s really nice to see my peers’ strengths being brought out. There are no medium requirements either, so people worked with colored pencil, watercolor, and other more.” She certainly was right; every piece was unique and showcased a different strength.
The concept is touching—using one’s talents in order to bring joy to a child and create a lasting work that will never be forgotten. The art is a memory for children who otherwise would not have great memories of their childhood. The children live in countries where poverty overshadows art. The country that IA’s art club is partnering with is Bolivia, one of the poorest countries in Latin America with a poverty rate of 59%. Many of the children also face abuse, neglect or loss of parents. Project participants created art for the children that will bring them hope and happiness. It is a beneficial experience for both the child and IA student.
Art club is a mode of relaxation for its members, allowing them to escape from the everyday stresses of internal assessments, standardized tests, and exams. As Junior Angela Gosselin, put it, “It’s really easy to get caught up in the serious, academic atmosphere of the IA and for us to forget to enjoy ourselves during our high school experience. Art Club is a way to go past the single block of art class I have every other day, and incorporate art into my life in a real way.” Angela, who has been involved with art since she can remember, has taken art every year at IA and is currently an IB Art student. However, even students who are not enrolled in art at the IA are able to be in Art Club and participate in the project! Though Tabassum did not choose IB Art, she remains an active Art Club member because for her, it is an opportunity to “enjoy art and appreciate it.”
After speaking with some of the people involved in the project, I realized how time consuming it was. When I asked Angela why the Memory Project was something she chose to dedicate her time to, she said it was because of the children on the receiving end. “These children don’t have many things or ways of remembering their childhood.” For Tabassum, although her workload is already heavy, she decided to join the Memory Project because she was touched by the meaning behind it. She says that she is someone who gets emotionally attached to her pieces and her hope is that her work with the project will make a difference in someone else’s life. It was a way to make the children feel special, valued, and above all—loved. To all the Art Club participants: Job well done! For anyone looking to find out more about the Memory Project, the official website is https://memoryproject.org/