Students paint portraits of kindness for children abroad

OSSEO, Wis. (WEAU) -- Instead of making the typical self-portrait in art class, students at Osseo-Fairchild High School are thinking outside the lines and across borders and they're making portraits of children from countries that have faced hard times.

They are connecting with the children through an organization called, The Memory Project and it was actually started by a UW-Madison student back in 2004, with a goal to let youth facing hard times know that somebody cares about their well-being.

“I had to get the basic shape of the face down and then you start with the eyes,” said Amara Wilkinson, about her portrait. Several art students as Osseo-Fairchild High School made portraits for children in Columbia. “We use the photos of those kids as a reference to create a drawing,” said Lisa Covelli, the art teacher at Osseo-Fairchild.

Then it was off to the drawing board, for the students. “Prior to them getting the photo, we learn the proportions of the human face and study the map and where everything should be,” Covelli said.

Most of the students used a combination of watercolor paint and colored pencil to complete the one of kind portrait. “It made me feel like part of something bigger than just me, bigger than just Osseo,” said art student, Hailey Abram.

The students are planning to give children who are facing neglect, parental loss or deep poverty something of their own and a lasting memory.

“It’s a neat way to kind of reach out across the world in a creative way,” Covelli added.

The organization hopes to let the children know that people care about their well-being.

“There is a sense of giving and generosity that my students enjoy in the project,” Covelli said. “The effort they put in and their consideration and their concern for the details and wanting it to look right and it is just a really great learning experience as an artist.”

The students are making each portrait as unique as the child that it’s going to.

“I hope she is really excited and I hope she thinks I did I good job,” Wilkinson said.

The class already sent the portraits to the children in Columbia, who should have them by now. But the organization will send a video to the art class so they can see the kid's reactions when they receive their portraits.