AP Art students bring back the Memory Project, draw Nigerian children’s’ portraits


Young artists are hunched over at various tables. They work intently to capture exact detail in an effort to create the most lifelike image possible. This project is not for the students to enjoy, but instead a gift for children across the globe.

The Memory Project, implemented about four years ago in the school by Art teacher Mrs. Van Veenhuyzen and her students, is a non-profit organization that invites art teachers and their students around the world to create portraits for children globally.

According to the Memory Project Foundation, the mission statement of the project is to creatively practice kindness and global awareness.

The children who are the subject of the portraits often live in orphanages and have faced substantial challenges, such as neglect, abuse, loss of parents, violence, extreme poverty, and displacement from their homes due to war in their countries. Photographers from the Memory Project organization take these children’s picture, mail them to the artists, and then mail the finished portraits back for the kids to enjoy.

“I received a flyer in my mailbox for the memory project, and fell in love with the idea. I proposed it to National Art Honor Society (NAHS) and my AP classes and my students really liked the idea. We got 20 portraits of kids from Nigeria, and we have to finish the portraits and mail it back in February,” Van Veenhuyzen said. “The Memory Project foundation records a video presenting the kids with their portraits, and I’m so excited to see their reactions.”

Van Veenhuyzen and her students have already received a video of Nigerian children receiving the portraits drawn by various students.

“This project has been so rewarding to work on. Making a portrait of someone is such a unique way to help someone, and it’s a cool feeling to know that the art you create is given to kids in Nigeria.” Van Veenhuyzen said. ” I love this project because we get to see faces and a glimpse of the personalities of the kids around the world and they deserve to feel special and important which is what this project does.”