Arts 18 Apr 2019

Portraits of kindness

By CIS Communications
Photograph by CIS Communications

Last year, CIS secondary students were given the opportunity to participate in a meaningful CCA called The Memory Project. It’s a charitable organisation that invites teachers and students to create and donate portraits to youth around the world who face substantial challenges, such as violence, disasters, extreme poverty, neglect and loss of parents. Since these children have very few personal keepsakes or photos, the portraits are very special and unique gifts – unlike anything they’ve seen before.

Last semester, each student received one photo of a child or teen from the Philippines. Students learned about portraiture styles, realistic drawing techniques, and a variety of media including watercolour, acrylic, oil paints and even digital illustrations to create their portraits. The result was a range of stunning portraits that reflected a variety styles. Their artwork, along with a personal message and a photo of the artist, was then hand-delivered to each child. For our students it was a special opportunity to creatively practise kindness and global awareness. Elizabeth Sarich, visual arts MYP teacher, said:

“We thought The Memory Project would be a great opportunity for students to make a positive difference to the lives of others. We have so many talented artists at CIS and this gives them a chance to creatively practise kindness and global awareness. The most memorable part about the project is seeing how much pride students take in creating their artwork. Since they know their portraits would be a special keepsake, students carefully considered their techniques, media and colours. They wanted the children to feel valued and important, so they put forth their best effort and gained a great sense of accomplishment when they are finished. Watching the final video is also a highlight as it allows students to see their artwork being delivered and to really feel the impact they have on the greater community.”

Hopefully the project can be continued for many years to come at CIS with the goal of making as many children as possible feel valued and important. Here's what our students have to say about the project:

Sean Xiao - "The most memorable thing to me is seeing how happy the children are and how they appreciated our artwork. Their smile is the purest ever and that is something I will always remember." 

Leona La - "The Memory Project was a very rewarding experience. Aside from putting my artistic abilities to use, it was an opportunity to create something meaningful for another human being. Drawing someone a portrait made me feel a personal connection to that person even if I've never met them. It felt as though I had created a spark of love in a world of hardship. While my contribution to the project was a mere painting, I felt that it served as a purposeful gift and I gained a new relationship with the world around me."