Mass. Art Students To Create Hundreds of Paintings for Children at Dorchester School

Artists plan on producing nearly 450 artworks for the classmates of 8-year-old Martin Richard, who was killed in the Boston Marathon bombings.

Photo by ZoofyTheJinx on Flickr.

Photo by ZoofyTheJinx on Flickr

Years before the Boston Marathon was marked by tragedy, artist Beth Balliro worked at the Neighborhood House Charter School, where one of the victims, 8-year-old Martin Richard, attended.

It was in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings that claimed Martin’s life when Balliro felt helpless in terms of what she could do to assist the grieving family and community members in Dorchester.

So she did what she does best—she turned to her artwork. “Everyone is wondering what they can do in this crazy time, so I was trying to think of an idea that would give some positive energy to that community, while helping the [Massachusetts College of Art and Design] community, and have them place their good will somewhere,” says Balliro, who is an assistant professor of art education at the college.

She put a call out to past and present students, asking them to join her in creating 415 small pieces of art on three-inch-by-three-inch canvas, to be delivered to each of the students at the school Martin attended in the Ashmont area of Dorchester. “It’s just meant to be a gesture of art solidarity, and a gesture to go make art. I’m sure the school has done a beautiful job for therapeutic services, but this is our way, from artist to artist, to offer some positive energy,” she says.

Balliro says each small painting, collage, or illustration will be sent with a collection of art supplies, which she purchased through some funding from the Hard Rock Café, so every student will receive a “goodie bag” of materials and have something that “brings a little joy to this harrowing time in their lives.”

She says the project is two-fold, as well, serving both the community she once taught in and the one she teaches in now. “The process of making something allows people to feel like they are making their energies concrete. For the artist making them, it’s a chance to imagine making something for a kid, which we don’t get to do a lot as artists. It’s a pretty warming experience,” she says. “And for the kids, it’s the idea of having a brightly colored and ‘quirky’ [painting]. Something very small scale, so it’s a an object to hold.”