Best of the Bronx: Students hand-draw portraits for Colombian children

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SCHUYLERVILLE -

A group of Bronx high schoolers are connecting with children in Colombia by creating artwork that is on an international mission.

Putting pencil to paper, the students are learning a lesson that goes beyond the classroom.

Portraits are part of the curriculum in Aimee Cavazzi's art class at Bronx River High School, but the 20 or so juniors and seniors are turning to complete strangers for inspiration.

"I felt that it would give the children a deeper meaning behind the artwork, to give them a chance to use art as a bridge between two different communities," says Cavazzi.

With help from the nonprofit The Memory Project, the students were paired with photos of children in Colombia living in extreme poverty.
The assignment is to use these faces as muses, and for many the experience got personal.

“He almost looks identical to my brother so, I wouldn't want anything to happen to my brother, I only want him to laugh and whatever, so I want him to smile," says 11th-grader Miguel Aviles.

A reaction many of these Bronx teenagers hope the children will have when the finished portraits are sent to them in Colombia.

"They built a relationship with the art, and really became connected, some of our students started even calling them their children, so it was really cute," says Cavazzi.

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