Artists – young and old – respond to Marathon attack on canvass, with song

Dorchester Responds to Bombing with Sign of Peace from Chris Lovett on Vimeo.

“I couldn’t mix the paint fast enough!” exclaims Dot Art Executive Director Liz Carney, describing the April 20-21 “Painting for Peace” project on Savin Hill Beach, an event she organized to help children respond to the Marathon tragedy.

“Kids have so much to say, but a lot of it is beyond words. It can only be said in pictures,” explained Carney.

Dozens of youngsters collaborated on transforming a 100-foot roll of fabric wallpaper into a canvas on which they expressed their emotions with a limited palette of acrylics. The kids also made greeting cards and hearts for victims and first responders. Carney’s calligrapher sister Claire Griffin added the words from the poster made by Martin Richard in the now-familiar picture “No More Hurting People. Peace.” The completed banner now hangs from the Savin Hill Bridge above the southeast expressway.

The two-day Dot Art project epitomizes the many ways that Dorchester residents are using the arts to heal one another and to counteract acts of hatred with outpourings of help.

Margery Buckingham, Education Director for Dorchester Arts Collaborative, was running a School Vacation arts and craft series and a chance meeting with Linda Dorcena Forry led to a host of art therapists from Lesley University volunteering to work with the youngsters. Last Thursday, Heidi Katz, an art therapist from Roxbury, drew a life-sized human shape and invited the kids to color in the spots where they were feeling strong emotions in their own bodies. They drew pictures of places in Dorchester where they felt safe like home and church. The event ended with dancing with silk scarves and banging on rhythm instruments.

Adult visual and performing artists in Dorchester are also channeling their talents into positive, practical efforts. Among them a part-time painter Evan Gildersleeve, who told the Reporter “Making a difference through art is my passion!’ The 24-year-old Locust Street resident, who copes with PTSD after serving in a Marine sniper platoon in Iraq, is now pursuing a double major in Psychology and French at UMass/ Boston.

He was the very first person to respond to a call for donated art issued by Luca De Gaetano and Taylor Mortell of Boston University School of Visual Arts for their Still Running: An Art Marathon for Boston Initiative, aimed at gathering works of art to convey the strength and compassion of the Boston community in responding to the bombings and manhunt.

Gildersleeve previously raised thousands of dollars through his oils donated to the Children’s Tumor Foundation and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation in memory of his late brother.

Gildersleeve’s canvas Boston: Hope Lives On was inspired by the selfless acts of Bostonians who came to the aid of the fallen. “Disregarding their own well-being they risked life and limb to save the hopes, dreams and lives of all who watched. I too watched what was happening, drawing parallels to my experience in Ramadi, Iraq in 2008, and for the past week have felt so helpless.  I want to donate this painting to help with the victims’ medical bills, if possible, and end this helpless feeling inside.”

Children Singing for Peace

This Saturday, April 27, the Dot-based Boston City Singers (BCS) will host “Children United in Song Honoring the Victims of the Boston Marathon Attacks.” The 75-minute all-music, no- speakers concert will be held in St Mark’s Church, 1725 Dorchester Ave. It will feature the BCS and its affiliates, the World Rhythm Ensemble and the Cambridge Children’s Chorus. They will be joined by the All Saints (Ashmont) Choir of Men and Boys and the Junior Choristers of the Boston Archdiocesan Choir School in Cambridge (some of whom are former BCS members and Dorchester residents.)

Also appearing will be children from the Neighborhood House Charter School, where Martin Richard was a third-grader, his still-hospitalized sister Jane is a first-grader and their mother Denise, the school librarian.

According to Mellissa Graham, BCS Managing Director, “The program will consist of upbeat songs about peace and will culminate in a sing-along with the audience, led by Nick Page, well-known leader of the Mystic Chorale. Like most of our concerts the event is free but people are encouraged to make a freewill contribute to the OneBoston or the Richard Family fund.”