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Success Stories

The Memory Project

Posted on May 07, 2015

Picture of Tyler Art Students

Against a backdrop of vivid color appears a shy smile, an engaging grin, a cautious stare, a mischievous twinkle, a look of hope. For weeks, John Tyler Community College art students in Professor Colin Ferguson’s Portrait Class have worked carefully to create the fine details that make up each portrait. This is a special project for the student artists – one that goes beyond grades. These portraits are gifts for young people living in Ghana. They are part of the Memory Project, an initiative that gives children, from all over the world, who have been abandoned, orphaned, abused or neglected, a personal keepsake. This is the ninth year Tyler has participated in the Memory Project. In past semesters, Ferguson and his students have painted portraits of children from Nepal, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Peru, Uganda, Myanmar, Haiti and Ecuador. 

Each students who participates in the project is given the photograph of a child or teen. Then, using techniques they learned in Ferguson’s class, they put brush to canvas, creating a likeness of their child. “This assignment continues to be one of the most significant to the students, and the quality of the work testifies to this,” says Ferguson, professor of studio art at John Tyler. “Ben Schumaker, who created The Memory Project, told me the portraits from John Tyler are consistently among the best he receives each year.”

This year, 17 portraits were painted by Ferguson and his students. From now until May 17, 2015, the paintings will be on display on the second floor of Eliades Hall at the College’s Midlothian Campus. After May 17, the portraits will be taken down, carefully wrapped and shipped to the Memory Project, which will deliver the paintings to the children who are featured in them.

The College’s participation in this project is supported by the John Tyler Community College Foundation.

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