Ross School - Senior Projects 2010

Student: Chelsea Werle

Mentor: Jennifer Cross


Title: Priceless Portraits


Priceless Portraits represents my Ross School Senior Project. At The Ross School, Senior Projects give students the opportunity to devote themselves to a passion or interest. I decided to combine my passion for painting with a service project. Priceless Portraits is a project based on the Memory Project, a non-profit organization I have been involved with for the past four years. The Memory Project provides a unique opportunity for high school and university art students to create portraits for children in orphanages all around the world. The process is rather simple; art students receive a photograph of the child they will be painting, the student then paints the portrait. When completed the student sends it back to the organization, and then the portrait gets given to the child. For my Senior Project I decided to branch off of this idea and take the initiative to find my own orphanage for children with special needs in Ecuador. I have painted portraits of children living in Cuenca, Ecuador and will be sending them as gifts. This book contains reproductions of those portraits as well as interviews I did with Ben Schumaker, the Founder of the Memory Project and Rex Head, Director of OSSO's Little Ones in Ecuador. I also have also included images of other Memory Project portraits done by Ross students for children living in Tanzania, Haiti and the Philippines.


Book Text

Images (IMG_9845.jpg, IMG_9924.jpg, IMG_9930.jpg, IMG_9931.JPG, IMG_9935.JPG, IMG_9939.JPG,,

PowerPoint Presentation


For my Senior Project I wanted to combine my passion for painting with a service project. I have been working with the Memory Project since 9th grade and thought it would be a great idea to broaden this project. I spoke to Ben Schumaker, the founder of the Memory project, and he encouraged me to approach an orphanage of my own. This is when I found OSSO’s Little One’s orphanage located in Ecuador. After speaking with Amber Steckley, the director of OSSO’s Little Ones we decided that I would paint eight children.

The challenges I encountered were those when I was ready to interview my outside consultants for my book I ran into many issues. The first being Amber Steckley unfortunately left the orphanage when I was ready to interview her and Rex Head took her position. I luckily was able to get in contact with him and explain my project to him and he said he would be happy to be interviewed, the only thing was that he was very hard to get in contact with on the daily and he did not like sending emails, he liked talking on the phone, which was difficult at times because he was all the way in Ecuador and we have a time difference. The next challenge I faced was my book. I decided to create a book thinking that it would not entail a lot of work, boy was I wrong. It ended up being more then half of my project. This led to my time management skills. I am always the type to procrastinate so this was a large issue of mine. My last issue was the paintings in general. I had to keep the children looking like themselves but still put my “flare” into the painting. It was a very difficult task. There was also the issue of the painting not drying fast enough, because it is oil paint.

My process for this project basically began in 11th grade, this is when I proposed this idea to Mrs. Cross and we got started. Mrs. Cross put me in contact with Ben Schumaker and we discussed my project. I then got in contact with OSSO, which then led me to Amber and my eight portraits, which led me to putting it all into a book.

The book itself includes an introduction about my Senior Project, information about the Memory Project, works by myself and other Ross School students from the past years, children holding portraits painted by Ross School Students, my eight portraits of children from OSSO painted this fall, and interviews with Ben Schumaker and Rex Head.

What I have learned from completing this project is many more art skills and the challenged of using oil paint and painting from photographs, interview and writing skills, editing and proof reading skills, image selection, time management, and last but not least gallery installation.

In the future I would love to continue to work with Ben. I love knowing that I have touched young children around the world. I would also love for people to get more people involved, I am going to continue to pursue my love for art in college and I have learned such a valuable lesson, that one person can make SUCH a difference in the world.

Works Consulted

Schumaker, Ben. "Interview." E-mail interview. 18 Oct. 2009.

Head, Rex. “Interview.” Phone interview. 5 Dec. 2009.

Steckley, Amber. “Interview.” E-mail interview. 20 Nov. 2009.

"The Memory Project." The Memory Project. Ed. Ben Schumaker. Ben Schumaker. Web. Oct. & nov. 2009. <>.

"2008 Winter Commencement: Ben Schumaker transcript." 2008 Winter Commencement: Ben Schumaker transcript. Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System, 2008. Web. <>.

Ben Schumaker. LinkedIn Corporation, 2009. Web. <>.

Memory Project: Unforgettable. CBS News, 8 Sept. 2006. Web. <>.

Ben Schumaker- Forward Under Forty. Wisconsin Alumni Association, 2008. Web. <>.

Community Member (Details)

Ben Schumaker- Founder of the Memory Project

Amber Steckley- Director of OSSO

Rex Head- New Director of OSSO