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Westlake Portraits Tell Orphans They Are Special

When Mount Pleasant art teacher Claudia Papazian-Moravec heard on the news about students painting portraits of orphans, she thought it would be a wonderful project for her students.

“It was a very sad thing to hear that these orphans don’t have a (visual) history of themselves,” the Westlake High School teacher said. “A lot of times, these kids think that actual portraits are only for important people. To have someone actually do a piece of artwork on them is very special, and we wanted to let them know that they are special.”

Papazian contacted Ben Schumaker, the organizer of the Memory Project, and he sent her 11 photographs he had taken of orphans in Mexico which were to be used for painting portraits.

About 25 ninth, tenth and eleventh grade art students got involved in the project, painting portraits of the orphans with a note on the back telling him or her what motivated them when producing the artwork. The note was translated into Spanish by a Westlake Spanish teacher so that the orphans would understand it.

Students used shadowing when drawing facial proportions to try to create a three-dimensional quality to the portraits.

“I think they were very touched and really excited to work on this because it had a very special meaning. It really addressed a concern for human kind and doing something for someone who was maybe not so fortunate,” Papazian said.

Papazian wrote a grant to cover the Memory Project’s nominal fee for processing the photographs and artwork, which was awarded by the Mount Pleasant Parent Teacher Association.

The art teacher is planning on sending 11 of the students’ portraits next week to Schumaker, who will hand-deliver them to the orphans in Mexico in June.

“It was such a wonderful experience and very broadening to look at the students’ artwork,” Papazian said. “It was about doing something kind for a child in Mexico, letting them know that they matter.”

What do you think of this project for orphans? Leave your comment below or email tlee@mainstreetconnect.us.

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