Art for Orphans

Memory ProjectI’ve been big on causes lately, and I really love this one: The Memory Project. High school art students paint portraits of orphans and then the orphans get to keep the painting. Considering that orphans don’t have parents taking thousands of snapshots (like me) or very many possessions of their own, having a portrait of themselves would be huge.

Ben Schumaker of Madison [Wis.] started the project in 2004 after spending time at an orphanage in Guatemala. He felt overwhelmed by the poverty around him and helpless because he wasn’t in a financial situation to do much about it.

“Then a Guatemalan man who had grown up in an orphanage stopped by and told me how much he wished he had something to help him remember his earliest years,” Schumaker said. “He didn’t have any photographs of himself as a child or any parents to tell him what he was like. I’ve always enjoyed making portraits of people, so the idea came naturally.” (Duluth News Tribune)

I love the simplicity of the project, yet it has a profound impact. Plus it was started out of frustration and having no apparent way to help–that’s how we can deal with consumerism.

It also reminds me of Dale Johnson’s Frogtown King CDC playground mural (which has since been torn down). And the synergy is nice–I covered this for both Foursquare NextGen Summit ’07 and Personality.

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