Joeny Zhen is a senior at Natomas Charter School, an artist and a longtime North Natomas Library
patron. For his senior project, he’s recruiting other artists to help him draw and paint pictures of orphans who might otherwise grow up without any pictures of themselves.
How did you hear about The Memory Project?
I didn’t hear about it until about four months ago. One of our art teachers and an English teacher were talking about this phenomenal project. They said this project was in need of visual artists. I’m an artist, a drawer, painter and sculptor. I’m also a musician—I play tenor sax, drum, guitar and many other instruments.
At the Memory Project, they’re searching for visual artists all around the world to draw and paint portraits of these orphans as a valuable memory for them. Going online, I saw tons of videos at their website, seeing how happy the children are. I thought, “Why couldn’t the Sacramento community do something like this?” I decided to do it as my senior project. I’m trying to collect all the pictures at once. My second plan is to create an art show at Natomas Charter School and show the Sacramento community what we’ve done and what we’ve given to orphans around the world.
I’ve been given an orphanage in Nicaragua. They sent up pictures of 20 kids. Eleven artists are currently each working on one. These artists are from my school, Natomas Charter School. One is actually a teacher. Her name is Miss Miller. I didn’t know she was a visual artist. I have a kid; his name is Oniel. Currently I’m just drawing him. I haven’t gotten all the painting materials yet. If I find more artists, hopefully they can start as soon as possible.
How should people get in touch with you if they would like to be involved?
So you and your family are big library users?
Yeah, ever since I moved to Natomas when I was in third grade. I use it mainly for projects and research assignments. Sometimes I use it for pleasure, such as checking out mangas (Japanese-style graphic novels). I read a specific series called Naruto
. I go every two weeks, sometimes every week. For seven or eight years, I would go every day after school. I haven’t been going as much this year because I’ve been busy.