Art Students Create Memories


Lili Ali, Editor

For the past 15 years, HMHS art teacher, Ms. Acton, has been participating in the Memory Project to provide hand drawn self-portraits of young orphans all around the world. For their final project of the school year, Ms. Acton instructed her Art Major students to hand draw and paint these self-portraits that will be shipped to children globally. 


The Memory Project was started by Ben Shumaker in 2004 while he was a student at the University of Wisconsin. He encourages art teachers and students to participate in the Memory Project to help build cultural understanding and international kindness. Shumaker dreams of a future fueled by the core values of the Memory Project: “Together we are using art to reach a distant destination: a kinder world in which all youth see themselves in one another regardless of differences in their appearance, culture, religion, or the circumstances of their lives.”


Ms. Acton originally started participating in this project at HMHS because her own high school art teacher reached out to her with this idea. As she researched it, Ms. Acton “thought it was a wonderful way to bring empathy and compassion into the heart of a high school student”. Ms. Acton hopes this project will impact her students by allowing them to “make an authentic connection with a child they will probably never meet, through creating a piece of artwork with them.” Additionally, this project helps Ms. Acton’s students build their skills for AP Art and prepares them for the social and emotional learning experiences they will gain through that class. In the end, Ms. Acton believes “it’s mostly about [her students] creating a memorable piece of artwork for themselves and, of course, for the child getting the artwork.” 


The Memory Project is truly inspiring and incredibly impactful. It was a pleasure working with Ms. Acton to learn more about this project that has been an essential component of the art program and has had such a fundamental impact on so many lives. A final note from Shumaker: “I like to think that everyone in the Memory Project is traveling together in a ship made of art. For all who believe in the existence of that kinder world on the horizon, it is impossible to turn the ship around.” 


For more information please visit or reach out to Ms. Acton at [email protected] 


The current art students will start working on their portraits soon, but here are some images of artwork from years past.