Paris Myers, junior, double major in honors fine art and honors bioengineering
Years at OSU: 3
City of residence: Corvallis
Paris Myers turned 19 on March 28, days after Gov. Kate Brown announced the statewide stay-at-home order in response to the growing threat of COVID-19.
That day, brainstorming how she could best help people affected by the shutdown, Myers came up with an idea that matched her unique skills with the needs she saw in the community.
Using online fundraising experience gained while planning for a now-canceled field trip to Washington, D.C., Myers set up a fundraiser called “Paintings for Produce.” The plan: She would create a custom oil painting for anyone who donated $25 or more toward local produce boxes from Gathering Together Farm in Philomath, which in turn would be given to families in need. Bigger donations got bigger paintings.
“My whole premise was like, ‘OK, I can sew masks, but there are a lot of people that know how to sew. How can I use this skillset that’s specific to me to make this happen right now?’” she said. “I think there’s a misconception that we all need to help in the same way, but there’s a lot of ways to help.”
She shared the fundraiser on social media, hoping to capitalize on the attention bestowed on her birthday, and set an initial goal of $1,000. She hit that within a day.
As of May 26, Paintings for Produce had raised $4,830 of the new $5,000 target amount, and Myers is on the hook for 52 paintings — though she’s now sharing the artistic burden with a friend, OSU classmate Cameron Knopf, who joined the campaign on April 27 and is contributing handmade ceramics for donors who prefer a bowl or a mug over a painting.
The money raised has allowed for nearly 50 families to receive a produce box.
Myers chose Gathering Together because of its special place in the community, its sustainable organic practice and because of how careful the owners have been to maintain safety and sanitation in the face of the pandemic. Some of the produce recipients are immunocompromised, so she wanted to make sure they could safely accept the boxes. She also gives recipients the option to have the box delivered at no cost to them.
So far Myers has completed 11 oil paintings, and anticipates she’ll be painting well into the summer to finish all the orders. Donors have reached out from all over the country. Many have asked for nature and wildflower paintings, as well as pet portraits. (To see more of her work, go to https://www.parismyers.com/.)
The paintings are therapeutic for Myers, too.
“It’s sort of the thing that’s been keeping me really motivated and positive during Covid, to be honest,” she said.
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