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News Bites: Class Project Creates Lasting Memories for Children in Need

Posted June 14, 2016 in StudentFacultyNews BitesIllustrationMedical Illustration

For the past six years, Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University (KCAD) Illustration Professor Patricia Constantine has involved her students in a unique collaboration with The Memory Project, a nonprofit organization that connects with artists and art students all over the United States to create portraits of children in other countries around the world who have faced substantial challenges.

Many of the children that receive these gifts have faced extreme poverty, violence, abandonment, and abuse. Through The Memory Project, they receive a personalized work of art that they can keep with them for the rest of their lives.

During the fall 2015 semester, Illustration and Medical Illustration students in Constantine’s Head, Hands, and Feet class had the chance to create portraits of children in Madagascar. When a school volunteers, participants are sent photographs and bios of the children, which they then use to create the portraits.

Constantine says the project allows students to both sharpen their artistic skills and understand how those skills go beyond the creative process. “It crosses that line where it isn’t just an assignment. The students are creating something that’s really memorable for someone else. They’re using their talent, abilities, and education to help people.”

For both the KCAD students and the children in Madagascar, the aftermath of the project is the most exciting. After receiving their portraits in the mail, the children are then usually photographed holding the artwork with big smiles on their faces, and the images are sent back to the volunteers who created the work. This time around, however, The Memory Project was able to put together a video showing the full extent of the children’s reactions. 

This video was created by and posted here with the permission of The Memory Project - visit memoryproject.org for more info

“The full impact of it didn't hit me until I saw the footage of the children receiving their pictures,” says Medical Illustration student Kyle LaDuke. “It really warmed my heart to see their smiles and how much they appreciated what we had done. It made the work more than worth my time.”

Illustration student Ashley Bryant added, “This project is about letting those children know that they are important, and that someone halfway around the world is thinking about them. As artists, we have the ability to use our creativity to make a difference in the world.”

Learn more about The Memory Project at memoryproject.org.