Students make portraits for orphaned children overseas

If someone asked a student at McLean High School what they looked like as a baby, chances are it would be easy to find a picture. However, for many orphaned children and teenagers in less privileged countries, this question is impossible to answer.
In an effort to create this sort of documentation for orphaned children, McLean art students used their skills to make a difference by joining in the work of The Memory Project. This organization sends pictures of children in need to art students, and the art students then create portraits to send to the children.
“These kids have never had a portrait of themselves [or] a photograph of themselves. They have no documentation of themselves as kids whatsoever,” visual arts teacher Christina Carroll said. “We are in the world of selfies—they don’t have anything.”
Once the portraits have been handed out at the orphanages, The Memory Project sends images of the children receiving the art back to the students.
“It was really special,” said senior Bella Canovas, one of McLean’s participants in The Memory Project. “It was a really unique project. I got to see how happy the kids were, and that was amazing.”
Canovas donated two portraits to the project, helping the school’s art department reach its grand total of 63 portraits.
“We were one of 20 schools in the entire country that were doing more than 50 portraits,” Carroll said. Approximately 15 of those portraits went to Nicaragua, while the others went to Haiti.
Students devoted hours of their own time outside of school to The Memory Project, but more than just time was donated to make these portraits a reality.
Every portrait made has to be sent with a $15 fee to cover the travel cost for The Memory Project. Navigant Consulting, a company run by the father of senior Jacqueline Green, a project participant, sponsored 53 of McLean students’ portraits.
“He really liked the organization and wanted to help out,” Green said.
Before participating at McLean, Green had done a portrait for The Memory Project on her own. She enjoyed the experience so much that she decided to get her peers involved.
“I wanted to bring it to McLean so that everyone could do it,” Green said.
On top of the portraits sponsored by Navigant Consulting, the National Art Honor Society donated 10 more.
Carroll, who is always looking for charitable projects like this one to do with her students, said this is not likely to be the last McLean will see of The Memory Project.
“We’re going to try and keep it as something that maybe is a tradition around here,” she said. “I think it’s really rewarding for the kids.”