Art with a specific purpose

"This is outrageously cool to have art actually mean something," said Torrey. She said the project allows students to impact a life, and that as a result, they are very excited and very nervous about their creations. "They want to do a really good job so that the children like what they do," she said.

"I'm so excited to be a part of a project that can bring such happiness to a child's life," said senior Rachel Vaivoda. "We aren't just drawing and painting for a grade, or to be in a show, or to even increase our portfolio. We are going to be able to use our talents to make a substantial difference, and that's what I love the most about this whole project."

The website says the portraits provide "a special memory of their youth" to children who have been abandoned, neglected, abused, or orphaned." It is hoped that the portraits help to "honor their heritage and identity."

Senior Brynn Baldetti said she likes the idea that she is not drawing for herself. "I'm making a piece of art that is going to have an impact and make a difference in this child's life. We have the power to positively influence this girl who does not have many happy experiences in her life so far." Baldetti is researching Honduras so that she can include some part of the girl's country and culture in the portrait she is drawing.

The connections aren't meant to end when the laminated portraits are mailed away in January. Shumacker asks that student artists include photographs of themselves and messages. The children will likely be able to make artwork for them as a part of a two-way exchange. Many times it turns into a connection and even pen pal situation between young people in different worlds.

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