‘America 4 Boston Prayer Canvas’ to Be Unveiled After Traveling the Country for 11 Months
For the last year, giant canvasses have been passed around the country, collecting messages of well wishes from people as far away as California and as deep South as Texas, all for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.
They’ve been to Capitol Hill and signed by members of Congress. Baseball players participating in the All-Star game made their mark on them. They even got transitioned from churches to schools to hospital facilities and state fairs amassing signatures from complete strangers—Governor Deval Patrick even signed one at the State House on Friday.
And now, after 11 months of traveling around, those same canvasses, a visual tribute to the city, will arrive to the finish line on Boylston Street and be displayed for the public to appreciate. “It’s awe-inspiring to see how big the canvas [project] has grown and to watch our country come together to rally and support one another in the time of need,” said Kari Wagner, founder of the “America 4 Boston Prayer Canvas” project, a grassroots initiative that began in Naples, Florida just days after the bombings on Boylston Street, and grew exponentially into a countrywide symbol of support for the city. “We couldn’t have done this without the help of hundreds of volunteers. We look forward to bringing the canvas to Boston for Boston.”
Seven mothers in Florida who, like many people across the world, wanted to find a way to honor Boston started the project in May last year. After creating a single canvas and having people in the community sign it, interest picked up swiftly, and cities and towns nearby started asking for their own canvas to design and write messages on. Soon, that interest spread even further, and Wagner and organizers began shipping blank canvasses out of state, along with markers and instructions, before receiving them back and adding them to the collection. “It really started small and started with one canvas, and it grew and grew. Now hundreds of canvasses later, there are more than 70,000 well wishes,” said Nancy Mallory, a spokesperson for the project.
On Friday, April 11, Wagner and a group of volunteers were driving to the city from Florida with canvasses in tow so that residents could admire the giant hand-signed murals over the course of several days leading up to the marathon.
Come April 15, the canvasses will be on display at the Boston Marathon finish line, stretched across the bleachers, during the tribute service planned at the Hynes Convention Center on the one-year anniversary of the attack.
From there, additional canvasses will be set up at Trinity Church so that people can stop by and sign them, offering additional messages of support. Those canvasses will then be added to the overall collection, before they are laid out on the lawn of Boston Common as part of a partnership with the One Fund, the Boston Athletic Association, and the mayor’s office. Attendees will be able to stroll through the grounds and read all of the notes and view the drawings written on the banners, and even add their own.
For their final debut, 19,000-square-feet of canvas that’s touched down in 50 states, 30 countries, and collected more than 70,000 signatures, will be sprawled across Fenway Park on April 20, just one day before the race, bringing the months-long project to an end. “We have been amazed at the impact this has made across the country,” Wagner said. “I think it says, ‘Even though you may never see us, or know me as a person I’m thinking of you, and I care.’”