Campus, News

BU students create Art Marathon to honor bombing heroes

In honor of the heroes who helped others after the Boston Marathon bombings in April, two Boston University students founded Still Running: An Art Marathon for Boston, which opened its first art exhibition on Thursday.

Taylor Mortell, a College of Fine Arts sophomore, and Luca De Gaetano, a 2013 Master of Fine Arts graduate, created the concept of Still Running in May. The show debuted at the Arnheim Gallery at Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Mortell said she and De Gaetano gathered inspiration for this project from the altruism they witnessed in the weeks following the Boston Marathon bombings.

“What motivated us to start Still Running was after the marathon tragedy, like pretty much everyone else in Boston, Luca and I … felt like we have lost our sense of safety and that was really concerning,” Mortell said. “But the other thing that really struck us about the event was all the random acts of kindness that followed … And Luca and I, both being artists, were very motivated to contribute and be a part of the positive energy.”

After the exhibition at Arnheim concludes on Nov. 23, many of the pieces will hang in the George Sherman Union, Mortell said. Those that are not chosen for display in the GSU will go to the Boston Medical Center and hang in its new emergency room facility.

Still Running is a contains three main components — art exhibitions, fundraising and “art marathons,” Mortell said. Still Running has hosted nine art marathons so far, in which the community congregates and creates art with materials supplied by the project.

Mortell said she and De Gaetano asked public artists to create art to give to first responders, local hospitals, local police stations and others involved in the Marathon as a way to show the community’s appreciation for their service.

“The community is the lifeblood of this project,” Mortell said. “It totally depends on community involvement and it has been absolutely amazing, especially the different people that have come out to be involved so far.”

This project is funded by grants from the BU Arts Initiative and Youth Service America and supported by donations from Modern Postcard and Strathmore Artist Papers, Mortell said. BU Arts Initiative officials awarded the artists a $2,000 grant, and they continue to support the project by increasing its profile and visibility through social media.

Jeannette Guillemin, assistant director of BU’s School of Visual Arts, said the School has also supported the project by facilitating space for art marathon projects, storing materials and administering donations.

“What I wanted to say is the most impressive is that this is a student initiative project, and what is interesting about Taylor and the work she’s doing is that it came from her and it’s something she initiated,” Guillemin said.

Professor of painting Hugh O’Donnell said he also contributed to this project. He offered his expertise in setting up workshops and provided a platform for idea generation through a class he teaches, Site-Specific Art, in which Mortell is currently enrolled.

“I was able to let Taylor to develop her project as part of this course semester and this kind of workshop where she can bring together a whole spectrum of talent and focus it is a wonderful thing,” O’Donnell said.

De Gaetano said in an email that one of the many goals of Still Running is to raise money and support the Future Boston Alliance, a group of local organizations dedicated to ending violence and investing in the youth of the city of Boston.

Though Still Running will conclude a month after the Boston Marathon in 2014, De Gaetano said he hopes the project leaves a lasting impact on the city of Boston.

“I learned once more that only a communal effort can revive a sense of liveliness and power even in the darkest circumstances,” De Gaetano said. “…The help and support of the entire art community inside and outside BU has been fundamental to keep us going.”

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