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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Highlands Art Students Making Memories for Third World Children

By David Ketcham 

Something so little can go such a long way, perhaps, as far as lifetime. Small momentums are better known for keeping a specific moment in time alive. For most of us, this means a tattoo of a special date or special time in life. For others, this means one single photo of their childhood.

Sounds crazy, right? Perhaps not.

Children in third world countries lack a reliable food source, healthy drinking water, and in some cases, shelter. Let alone a camera to capture moments of their childhood.

“The Memory Project” is a project where Highlands art students create works of art based off of a picture of a child from a third world country.

The Memory Project was started by Ben Shumaker, who assured not only pictures to children living in 3rd world countries, but unique pieces of portraits of themselves. Ben was like any other college student, unsure of what to do after graduating when he did so in 2003. The idea of helping children always enlightened Ben.

“I had been overwhelmed by the kids' needs for better nutrition, healthcare, and so on, but this ‘need’ to have a personal keepsake was one that I could actually do something about.” he said.

He couldn’t, however, do this project alone. There’s only one of him, but millions of children living in such conditions. Art students of Highlands, mainly in the photography department, took it into their own hands to help not only Ben, but a cause.

Kristine Donnelly, Art and Photography teacher at Highlands has had the Memory Project in her agenda for five years after discovering the organization from fellow artist, Andrew Eckerle.

“I think service learning opportunities are so important for students. When students can use their art skills in a service project, its amazing!”

Senior artist Veronica White agrees, adding “with the memory project, we as high school students learn how fortunate we are, and taking our advantages into the account of helping others is so important. Helping these children also helps us students to better understand each other regardless of our situation.”

Students at Highlands base their works off of the creations of Andy Warhol, a screen painter who was very successful in his works, painting famous people such as Marilyn Monroe. He was known for his Pop art, meaning he printed giant photos of actors/actresses and painted them in unlikely colors.

It's a time consuming process, made well worth it. “After watching Ben’s extraordinary project and spending countless hours looking into the eyes of Luis (assigned Bolivian child), I was able to feel a stronger connection with him. I hope the photo I created for him will give him something to smile about t” said senior artist, Dareyan Lang.

Art students nationwide who partake in this student service project nationwide are not only giving a piece of work to not so privileged children, they’re giving them something to have and to hold for a lifetime. Not only a childhood memory, but a memory of people who acknowledge them and strive to make a difference by shining a light on a dark situation.

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