Animal Portraits

This portrait series was painted by 7th grade students in partnership with the Washington Humane Rescue Alliance. The Humane Rescue Alliance has more than 150 years of commitment to protecting animals, supporting families, and advocating for positive change to create a world where all animals can thrive. HRA serves as a national leader and local champion for all animals. Their mission continues to evolve as conditions change and animals face new and different challenges, but the core of that mission remains unchanged: to honor and strengthen the human-animal bond by providing the best quality care for homeless dogs and cats, and supporting companion animals in their homes through affordable veterinary care, community outreach, and education.

This unit started when a humane educator from the Washington Humane Rescue Alliance visited 7th grade students. She introduced students to HRA's humane education program, volunteer opportunities, and showed them images of animals that were available for adoption. Students used those images to create intimate portraits of the animals, capturing their unique and affectionate personalities. During an “Art and Animals” camp student's were able to take their own photographs at the shelter as reference for their portraits.

After completing the portraits, students wanted to display their paintings in the community in order to bring awareness regarding the work animal shelters play in Washington D.C. and encourage the adoption of these animals. They wrote several letters to local shops and organizations. Our local library responded and the students displayed their paintings along with a written statement explaining the project. In addition, students brainstormed ways in which they could further help the animals at the shelter. Students brought in old towels, blankets, toys and treats that we donated to the shelter. They created rope toys out of recycled fabric for the animals as well.

Student Action Ideas:

  • Create & distribute a pet care information book

  • Make no-bake dog treats

  • Annual 5K Run to Benefit WARL

  • Collect old blankets and towels

  • Make and donate dog and cat toys

  • Display portraits to raise awareness