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State High Students Create Art for Malaysian Refugees

Art project


Click here to watch the video about the project.


While 50 State College Area High School students aren’t going anywhere during the COVID-19 pandemic, their art has traveled far.  


For the Wisconsin-based nonprofit organization Memory Project, the students created portraits in a variety of mediums as gifts for refugee children in Malaysia. Last month, the portraits and accompanying photos of the artists, handprints and warm messages were delivered to rave reviews.


The children were so excited to receive your artwork and very touched by your efforts,” Memory Project wrote to State High art teacher Maure Irwin-Furmanek. “They fully understood that creating the portraits was a way to show them how much you care about their well-being and their future.”


A Memory Project brochure sparked Irwin-Furmanek’s interest, leading her to decide the organization’s Portrait Program could be a good fit for her students. Both of her art classes and the Art Club/National Art Honor Society have been involved in charitable initiatives such as Create For A Cause events, where students developed art activities for local families with the proceeds helping to purchase art materials for a school in Rwanda and an education center in Tanzania.


I was personally excited about [the Portrait Program] because I am always looking for ways for my art students to be 'agents of change' in our local community and society both in the US and across the globe,” Irwin-Furmanek said. “It is imperative that students understand and know that their artwork can go beyond just making something beautiful.” 


District students, community members and the State High Student Senate donated funds or led fundraising efforts to support the project.


“Art has an impact in so many ways. It has the power to heal, power to persuade, power to give and the power to enable people to reflect upon their own values and beliefs and how they can help the world become a better place,” Irwin-Furmanek said. “Our art students were so excited to create artwork for the Memory Project’s Portrait Program. It was a way for them to create friendships and share their gift with children across the globe.”


By Chris Rosenbum