Frequently Asked Questions

General

How is the privacy of the children protected?


We are dedicated to protecting the privacy of all children involved in this program. We do not share any information regarding the children’s identities or locations with any person who is not a Memory Project staff member. View our full privacy policy here.




Is every single portrait delivered to every child?


The vast majority of portraits created through this program are successfully delivered to the children meant to receive them. However, given that it takes 6-12 months to create all of the portraits for children at any given location, there are usually a small percentage of the children who are no longer present when we deliver the finished portraits. For example, if we deliver portraits to children at a refugee camp, we may find that a number of children have left the camp. Sometimes it is possible to forward the portraits to their new locations, but when that is not possible (such as if nobody knows where their families went) then we give the portraits to friends of the children who left. There are also cases in which we intentionally decide not to deliver a particular portrait. In the past we delivered every single portrait without any screening process, and we were heartbroken to see that a small number of “unflattering” portraits made by novice art students caused some children to cry in front of their peers. Following the advice of the charities caring for the children, we therefore started to screen all portraits before delivering them. This is a process we take very seriously, because while we certainly want to honor the gift from every art student we also do not want to cause hurt feelings or teasing for any of the children. Of course, this applies to only a very small percentage of all the portraits we receive.




Do the children receive more than one portrait?


We began in 2004 by having one portrait made for each child but that was quickly determined to be unfair for the children receiving them. Some portraits looked professional in quality while others had been done by beginners, and a number were not finished at all. The charities caring for those children suggested that we take several different photos of each child in different poses. We could then give each of those photos to a different art student, which would result in several unique portraits for each child. We have since found this to be a much better way to honor each child, as a collection of several portraits does much more to represent each child's identity than a single portrait alone. Looking far into the future, we also hope that having several different portraits will one day allow the children to pass them down to their own children or grandchildren as valuable family keepsakes.




Can we communicate with the children?


We do not have the capacity to facilitate any communication between art students and the children who receive the portraits, as the charities that partner with us typically do not want their children to engage in unsupervised communication. Though we do highly suggest that all art students put photos of themselves on the backs of the portraits, as the children LOVE to see the people who create these gifts for them!




Will we get to see the children receiving their portraits?


For many years we individually photographed children receiving their portraits so that art students could see their artwork being delivered to each child. However, that process created many problems, so we now share the delivery through a video montage instead. Our videos do not intend to show individual children receiving individual portraits but rather the collective excitement of hundreds of children in each country receiving their portraits in large group settings. In other words, our participating art students do get to see the collective delivery of hundreds of portraits to each country, but not the individual delivery of each portrait to each child.




How are the portraits delivered to the children?


Historically we have delivered portraits to children in a different country every 1-2 months throughout the year, and we've usually sent two staff members to each country with the portraits wrapped in special transport bags. We have then created a short montage video of the delivery process to share with all of the art students who created the portraits (these videos have always focused on the overall excitement of the children in large group settings rather than the portraits themselves). We are now adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic by utilizing international courier services to get the portraits into the children's hands.




Are the photos of the children high quality?


Some of the charities that partner with us have access to high quality cameras while others do not. Similarly, at times we're able to arrange for skilled photographers to take the children's photos, while at other times we rely on people who have never before held a real camera. We tend to accept all photos, simply because we don’t want any children to be left out. You are welcome to let us know if you would like to be matched with children whose photos have high image quality.




How do the children react to the portraits?


The children’s immediate reactions to the portraits tend to vary by age. Young children are most noticeably thrilled to receive them. They hold their portraits proudly and show them to everyone around. Teenagers usually prefer to receive their portraits privately in a place where their peers are not crowded around to see. They often hang their portraits above their beds or protect them in a special place.




Who are the children who receive the portraits?


Each year we partner with different charities around the world to create portraits for new children, and every child who receives a portrait has a different story. Some live in refugee camps, others have lost their families, and others live in severe poverty. The one thing all children in our program have in common is that they are either facing or overcoming very difficult challenges, and they inspire us with their courage and resilience. Creating portraits for them is our artistic way of showing support and honoring their strength. We also place a special emphasis on creating portraits for children in countries that have tension with the United States as a way of extending our hand in peace.




How do you get the photos of the children?


Every year we collaborate with different children's charities around the world, and those charities photograph the children's faces and send them to us.





Portraits

How is the privacy of the children protected?


We are dedicated to protecting the privacy of all children involved in this program. We do not share any information regarding the children’s identities or locations with any person who is not a Memory Project staff member. View our full privacy policy here.




Is every single portrait delivered to every child?


The vast majority of portraits created through this program are successfully delivered to the children meant to receive them. However, given that it takes 6-12 months to create all of the portraits for children at any given location, there are usually a small percentage of the children who are no longer present when we deliver the finished portraits. For example, if we deliver portraits to children at a refugee camp, we may find that a number of children have left the camp. Sometimes it is possible to forward the portraits to their new locations, but when that is not possible (such as if nobody knows where their families went) then we give the portraits to friends of the children who left. There are also cases in which we intentionally decide not to deliver a particular portrait. In the past we delivered every single portrait without any screening process, and we were heartbroken to see that a small number of “unflattering” portraits made by novice art students caused some children to cry in front of their peers. Following the advice of the charities caring for the children, we therefore started to screen all portraits before delivering them. This is a process we take very seriously, because while we certainly want to honor the gift from every art student we also do not want to cause hurt feelings or teasing for any of the children. Of course, this applies to only a very small percentage of all the portraits we receive.




Do the children receive more than one portrait?


We began in 2004 by having one portrait made for each child but that was quickly determined to be unfair for the children receiving them. Some portraits looked professional in quality while others had been done by beginners, and a number were not finished at all. The charities caring for those children suggested that we take several different photos of each child in different poses. We could then give each of those photos to a different art student, which would result in several unique portraits for each child. We have since found this to be a much better way to honor each child, as a collection of several portraits does much more to represent each child's identity than a single portrait alone. Looking far into the future, we also hope that having several different portraits will one day allow the children to pass them down to their own children or grandchildren as valuable family keepsakes.




Can we communicate with the children?


We do not have the capacity to facilitate any communication between art students and the children who receive the portraits, as the charities that partner with us typically do not want their children to engage in unsupervised communication. Though we do highly suggest that all art students put photos of themselves on the backs of the portraits, as the children LOVE to see the people who create these gifts for them!




Will we get to see the children receiving their portraits?


For many years we individually photographed children receiving their portraits so that art students could see their artwork being delivered to each child. However, that process created many problems, so we now share the delivery through a video montage instead. Our videos do not intend to show individual children receiving individual portraits but rather the collective excitement of hundreds of children in each country receiving their portraits in large group settings. In other words, our participating art students do get to see the collective delivery of hundreds of portraits to each country, but not the individual delivery of each portrait to each child.




How are the portraits delivered to the children?


Historically we have delivered portraits to children in a different country every 1-2 months throughout the year, and we've usually sent two staff members to each country with the portraits wrapped in special transport bags. We have then created a short montage video of the delivery process to share with all of the art students who created the portraits (these videos have always focused on the overall excitement of the children in large group settings rather than the portraits themselves). We are now adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic by utilizing international courier services to get the portraits into the children's hands.




Are the photos of the children high quality?


Some of the charities that partner with us have access to high quality cameras while others do not. Similarly, at times we're able to arrange for skilled photographers to take the children's photos, while at other times we rely on people who have never before held a real camera. We tend to accept all photos, simply because we don’t want any children to be left out. You are welcome to let us know if you would like to be matched with children whose photos have high image quality.




How do the children react to the portraits?


The children’s immediate reactions to the portraits tend to vary by age. Young children are most noticeably thrilled to receive them. They hold their portraits proudly and show them to everyone around. Teenagers usually prefer to receive their portraits privately in a place where their peers are not crowded around to see. They often hang their portraits above their beds or protect them in a special place.




Who are the children who receive the portraits?


Each year we partner with different charities around the world to create portraits for new children, and every child who receives a portrait has a different story. Some live in refugee camps, others have lost their families, and others live in severe poverty. The one thing all children in our program have in common is that they are either facing or overcoming very difficult challenges, and they inspire us with their courage and resilience. Creating portraits for them is our artistic way of showing support and honoring their strength. We also place a special emphasis on creating portraits for children in countries that have tension with the United States as a way of extending our hand in peace.




How do you get the photos of the children?


Every year we collaborate with different children's charities around the world, and those charities photograph the children's faces and send them to us.





Art Exchange

How is the privacy of the children protected?


We are dedicated to protecting the privacy of all children on both sides of this exchange. We do not share any information regarding the children’s identities or locations with any person who is not a Memory Project staff member. View our full privacy policy here.




Is every single piece of artwork delivered to every child?


The vast majority of artwork in each exchange is successfully delivered to each child meant to receive it. However, given that it takes many months to create all of the artwork, we always find that a very small percentage of children are no longer present when we complete each exchange. For example, if we deliver artwork to children at a refugee camp, we may find that a small number of children may have left the camp. In those cases we give the artwork to new children at the location who did not receive a piece in the original exchange.




Can we communicate with the children?


We do not have the capacity to facilitate any communication between American students and foreign students, as the organizations that partner with us typically do not want their children to engage in unsupervised communication. Though we do highly suggest that all students put photos of themselves on the backs of their artwork, as all participants love to see the youth on the other side of the exchange!




How is the artwork delivered?


We accomplish this exchange with the help of many international partner organizations that work with children in school settings. They send us the drawings that their children create through international courier channels, and we then send them the artwork from our American students through those same courier channels.




Who are the children that participate?


The children on the American side of the exchange are K-12 students living throughout the United States. The children on the foreign side of the exchange are primary and secondary students living in countries that are culturally very different from the United States.




Are novice art students allowed to participate?


We see a huge variety in the artistic ability and experience of students who participate in this exchange, and every student is welcome. There are students on both sides who have never taken an art class, and their drawings might be simple pencil sketches on copy paper. Meanwile, there are other students who have the training and resources to create sophisticated paintings. We would never prevent a child from participating for lack of experience or resources, so we only request that each child tries their best to express something that is meaningful to them.





Still have questions? 

The Memory Project
2163 N. Gateway St.
Middleton, WI 53562

(608) 616-0317

A 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in 2004.

EIN: 20-1802885

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