Penn Wood Elementary Students Make Global Connection Through Art

Penn Wood Elementary Students Make Global Connection Through Art

Students working on their art projects  Directions for the Memory Project


Fourth-grade students at Penn Wood Elementary School are making global connections through the Memory Project. Established in 2004, the Memory Project seeks to breakdown cultural barriers and connect children around the world through art.

This is the first year that Penn Wood art teacher Annie Seagraves has been involved with the Memory Project. Her students are creating original works of art that will be sent to students in Nigeria. In turn, they will receive original works of art from the Nigerian students.

Students are free to paint or draw whatever they want, based on the themes of happiness, peace, kindness, and friendship. 

For Norah Laasri, the African savanna and galloping antelopes come to mind. Norah Laasri works on her art project

"Whenever I need to feel relaxed or calm, I always look at this picture and feel much better," explained Norah. "I hope when they get the picture they're going to be excited to open something up and see something new."

The Memory Project also opens students up to a world that is far different from their own. Nigeria has one of the lowest rates of school attendance in the world, and students there fight the odds for an education and a better future.

"It's probably scary sometimes to be a child there because there is a lot of fighting," said J.J. Warrington, who painted a beach scene for his project.

J.J. displays his beach painting "I like beaches because they are quiet sometimes. I hope they feel happy when they get it."

To help fund the students' participation in the Memory Project, Ms. Seagraves applied for and received a grant from the West Chester Area Education Foundation, a non-profit organization that supplements creative, meaningful, real-world experiences for students in the West Chester Area School District.

"The Memory Project promotes intercultural awareness among our students, giving them the opportunity to create personal and meaningful artwork to share globally," said Seagraves. "It breaks down cultural barriers and encourages students to cultivate a kinder world through meaningful experiences with their similarly-aged peers across the world."

 Seagraves added that each student will trace an outline of their hand on the back of their artwork, and include a photo of themselves to make the project even more personal. They will also write an artist statement to reflect upon the process of creating their unique piece of art.

A copy of the students' original artwork, alongside their global peers' work, will be on display at Penn Wood's art show in May.