Art students create personal portraits for disadvantaged children in Peru

Baldwin art students have created portraits that will be delivered to disadvantaged children in other countries.

Photo by Cheryl Foote

Baldwin art students have created portraits that will be delivered to disadvantaged children in other countries.

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There are many ways to impact someone’s life, and the art students at Baldwin are making an impact internationally.

Every year through The Memory Project, put together by the My Class Cares organization, art students have the opportunity to draw a portrait of a disadvantaged child from anywhere in the world. This year, the children are from Peru.

“Their stories are all different. Some are orphans, and some are living in places devastated by natural disasters. Sometimes they’re with their families, but they have nothing,” art teacher Cheryl Foote said.

The project started when Foote got a postcard in her school mailbox, she said.

“It jumped out at me for whatever reason. I looked into it more, and it was such a unique opportunity to be able to create art for these kids who have nothing,” Foote said.

Foote has stuck with the project for nine years now, since she has witnessed how much her students have enjoyed it over the years as well as the impact it has on the kids getting their portraits drawn.

Their stories are all different. Some are orphans, and some are living in places devastated by natural disasters. Sometimes they’re with their families, but they have nothing.”

— Cheryl Foote

“It just really struck a chord for me because it’s such a unique gift to not only give the gift of artwork, but also the gift of knowing that somebody across the world has spent hours of time thinking about them,” Foote said.

Senior Bridget Stehle has been looking forward to this project since she participated in it last year.
“I love it because the portraits could brighten up someone’s day, and I love having fun with it,” Stehle said.

It takes Stehle about three days to do a portrait.

“I’m the type of person that when I start something, I have to finish it,” she said.

The program doesn’t allow the artists to contact the children, but they do get the child’s name and his or her favorite color. Stehle said she uses that favorite color as inspiration for the background of the portrait.

Senior Jayla Wicks is trying something new with her portraits this year.

“I have two this year: one with pen and another one I’m doing it digitally since we’re allowed to do whatever medium we want,” Wicks said.

Overall, the students said they enjoy doing the project every year as a unique way to do something kind for others through art.

Foote said that after the portraits are distributed, The Memory Project creates a video of children’s reactions to their portraits.

“A few students usually recognize someone they drew, and seeing the joy and excitement is a really neat thing to be a part of,” Foote said.

The video shows the students how much their work means to the children, and they look forward to its arrival.

“Art is such a universal language. There don’t need to be words to see the joy on their faces. To know that simple effort changes a moment in their life, it’s worth it,” Foote said.