Connecting continents: WHS artists create a kinder world through art

Junior Isabelle Wang created a portrait of a child living in Nigeria for last year’s Memory Project. Like others, this portrait was sent to the child by the organization. “It’s about the joy that art brings to people, no matter who you are or where you live,” Latimer said. (Credit: Courtesy of Isabelle Wang)

WHS art teacher Veronique Latimer works in conjunction with the international nonprofit organization, Memory Project, to create powerful artwork with her students. The nonprofit connects artists all around the world in the gift of giving portraits to kids.

The aim of the project is to make the children feel valued.

“[Memory Project is] a non-profit organization based in Wisconsin that pairs together artists [and] organizations that serve children who are living in difficult situations throughout the world,” Latimer said. “Artists who sign up to take part receive a photograph of a child to create a portrait of.”

This year, WHS students are creating portraits of children from Afghanistan.

“The portraits are delivered to the children by the Memory Project and serve as keepsakes from childhood and reminders that people are thinking about them and wishing them well from across the world,” Latimer said.

Student artists are encouraged to use a variety of different mediums and colors in their portraits in order to create meaningful pieces for the children.

“We’ve seen beautiful portraits over the years done in watercolor, colored pencil, graphite, collage, acrylic or oil paint and in digital mediums,” Latimer said.

In the past, student artists have made their portraits special through the deliberate use of detail and color.

For last year’s Memory Project, senior Katherine Deane created a portrait of a child living in Nigeria. This portrait was also sent to the child by the organization. “This project is a great reminder to think about people whose lives are pretty different from your own,” Latimer said. (Credit: Courtesy of Katherine Deane)

“Students really work on creating a likeness of the child they are doing a portrait of,” Latimer said. “The Memory Project lets us know the child’s favorite color and artists can incorporate that into the portrait.”

After the creation process, the student artists send out their pieces. Then, Memory Project sends back a video of the portraits being delivered to the children.

“The children who receive them are so excited and hopefully their portraits help them remember a happy part of childhood, or that someone across the world is thinking of them,” Latimer said.

The portraits help build a feeling of international friendship and unity. Memory Project’s goal is to bring joy to children facing challenges and to build a kinder world.

“I love this project because it’s really an opportunity for us to make some artwork that goes out into the world and makes a difference to someone,” Latimer said. “I think as artists we often get pretty wrapped up in what’s going on in our own lives and communities. This project is a great reminder to think about people whose lives are pretty different from your own.”