Project Sunflower Sprouts Joy


Sarah Marcus, Staff Writer

“Project Sunflower is a service project that the National Art Honor Society [NAHS] does where we find people in our community who are dealing with fairly serious health issues and sneakily find out what they like. Then we make a batch of little miniature pieces of art to surprise them with just to let them know that there are people out there thinking about you and sending positive vibes and good energy,” said Chamblee High School art teacher and NAHS sponsor, Kimberly Landers.

Each Project Sunflower is individualized, which helps the artists get to know the recipient better.

“The art is based on what they’re interests are,” said Maggie Council (‘23). “If someone really likes flowers, we would make them flowers or if they love biking we would make them a nice little mountain scene with bikes and stuff. It’s a way to help make them feel at home and make them feel loved.”

The idea started when Landers’ friend was sick.

“I had a friend who ended up in the hospital shortly after she had given birth. The baby had to go and stay with other relatives and her husband couldn’t come visit her in the hospital,” said Landers. “Long story short, when I was trying to send food and flowers to the room, none of that could come because nothing live could be in the room. So I said, alright then, fine. I’m gonna paint you a flower.”

After deciding on her drawing, Landers decided to expand the project.

“Because we had painted sunflowers together on a number of occasions, I painted her a couple of sunflowers. I asked my students to all draw sunflowers, and then Project Sunflower was born. We decided we should keep doing this, but then the next time it was cows, and we decided we’ll just keep calling it Project Sunflower instead of changing the name every time,” said Landers.

“My friend [who inspired the original project], I went to visit her, and the sunflowers are still all over her house. We were in the middle of doing a Project Sunflower [at the time], so I brought stuff with me and she actually got to participate as well,” continued Landers.

Chamblee isn’t the only school spreading cheer through art. Project Sunflower has started to be introduced to other schools in the community.

“I taught in 2019 at the Georgia Art Education Association, a state conference with all the art teachers, and I’m actually teaching one coming up in March in New York City at the National Art Education Association Conference. I’m excited and nervous to share it,” said Landers, “We’ll do just like I did for the one in Georgia. There’s usually somebody in our art teacher network that knows who’s needing it.”

These workshops help introduce the project and teach different artistic strategies at the same time.

“Everybody in the group comes to a workshop, learns how to do something new and then gives their art away to give to someone. This is a really difficult thing sometimes as an artist because you know, you make your artwork and you love it so much. But they know where it’s going is far better than them hanging on to it,” said Landers.

The benefits Project Sunflower gives to different people are undeniable, but the project also gives back to the students.

“I have been presenting it as something to do with National Art Honor Society so they can get community service points […] I have also used [Project Sunflower] as an opportunity to fundraise to buy some special materials that I then teach my students how to use, so they’re also learning new techniques,” said Landers.

Learning how to use the different substrates and mediums for each piece of art teaches the participants a lesson.

“I make it special for my students and tell everybody at the workshop you know, if you have a new thing you want to teach that you want to be special for a group, then you pick that thing up,” said Landers.

Overall, Project Sunflower is a win-win proposal, both for students, highschools, and people going through illnesses.

“It’s a project that we all love doing, but we don’t want to do because we don’t want anybody to need feeling. You know, we want everybody to be well. But, it feels really good knowing that the art that you are making is going to really lift someone’s spirits,” said Landers.