High School Artists Demonstrate Compassion and Talent

High School Artists Demonstrate Cmpassion and Talent with Memory Project

Demonstrating both remarkable artistic talent and equally remarkable compassion, six students in the high school’s AP studio art class – joined by art teacher Derek Mainhart – recently participated in the Memory Project, designed to bring awareness to the plight of Rohingya children of Myanmar.

Since 2016, the ongoing crisis in Myanmar’s Rakhine State has centered on conflict between the majority Rakhine community and the ethnic minority Rohingya people, culminating in military crackdowns and the flight of close to a million Rohingya to a refugee settlement in neighboring Bangladesh. The Rohingya have been called the “most unwanted” group of people on Earth, and the Memory Project seeks to show the children that they are not “unwanted.”

Once they had signed on to the project, Mainhart and students Samantha Coccaro, Diana Damian, Joshua Murphy, James Rella, James Valencia and Josilyn VanWart were matched with seven Rohingya children from Rakhine State, and sent color prints of photos of the children. The Deer Park artists used the photos as references in creating realistic portraits of each Rohingya child in various 2D art media, working hard to capture the essence and dimensions of each face.

The portraits will be sent to the Memory Project in January, providing a heartwarming gift of artistic empathy to the Rohingya children, who have rarely seen photographs of themselves, much less a work of art representing them.