Burroughs High students create self portraits for orphans overseas

Burroughs High students create self portraits for orphans overseas

Art students at John Burroughs High School will again create paintings to be hand-delivered to orphans in Rwanda, Haiti, El Salvador, Vietnam, Ghana and Bolivia.

Last year, Dena Williams’ class created 20 acrylics of children living in a Sierra Leone orphanage.

Sixteen-year-old Michah Workman painted the portrait of a young girl.

“I felt blessed that I was going to be able to make a little girl happy,” Michah said.


“The Memory Project,” an organization based in Wisconsin, delivered each painting.

The Memory Project team documented the children receiving the paintings, and in celebration of the portraits, the children performed a song for Williams’ art class that was recorded on video and posted online.

When Williams’ students began the project, they were each given a single photograph of a child.

“They weren’t smiling, so we had to make them smile,” Michah said.


This year, Williams is working with Burroughs’ librarian and artist Julie Grene, along with fellow visual arts teacher Lauren Masters. And any student on campus is welcome to participate, regardless of their art experience.

“I’ll show them what they need to know,” Williams said.

She is also reaching out to the community, parents and fellow educators for the $15 cost of each portrait.

In total, the Memory Project has delivered about 40,000 portraits to kids in 24 countries.

“Some of these kids have lost their parents because of AIDS. Some of them have watched their parents get killed right in front of them,” Williams said.

Sarah Bustillo, 16, painted a portrait of a young boy last year, and said she looks forward to creating another one this time around.

“It was really nice to feel that not only were we doing something that we like, which is art, but we were also helping out somebody else we didn’t even know before,” she said. “Other people should try to do the same in any way, whether it’s Portraits of Kindness or any other type of volunteering.”



Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan