Boston is my favourite city. So the tragedies of recent months have hit home in the GDP headquarters. However, what has been refreshing and indeed heart-warming has been the response of the people of Boston itself and the wider world. Such kindnesses have been shown privately and institutionally, not least by the Museum of Fine Art in Boston opening its doors for free just after the bombing and more recently for the end of May Memorial weekend in order to help visitors spend some quiet, peaceful time engaged in art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York lent three specific paintings by Manet, Homer and Leighton as an act of solidarity with Boston.
But my favourite act has been the global making of quilted squares or flags for the To Boston with Love activity. People from all over the States, Brazil, Europe, South Africa, Japan, Australia and beyond made over 1,600 squares which were then displayed in the museum’s glass Shapiro Family Courtyard. The project was instigated by Berene Campbell of Vancouver and organised in Boston by Amy Friend. Many of the motifs are recognisable Boston favourites, like the ‘B’ logo of the Red Sox and the Zakim Bridge. I understand that the “runner coming out of darkness” was a very popular favourite image.
As well as admiring the quilted flags, visitors have also been able to participate in some art for Boston by making a paper-based community collage work that is also being displayed.
I love the idea of art-making as cathartic and supportive. We talk a lot in the design world about “design for society”, meaning making designs that help people to live their lives more easily. But art too can help people to do this, both in the making process and by being looked at and contemplated. To Boston with Love will always be a commemoration of a sad event, but it also demonstrates the best of humanity – people far off from the event reaching out to show support.
Moreover, making of quilted fabric squares, or even simply paper ones, would be a lovely project to keep a record of family, local and national events of your own. You could add another one whenever you felt like it and get the set out to display on birthdays or Thanksgiving, for example. A while ago I helped a youth group make a banner about the environment, with each person making a fabric square to add to the overall banner. This too helped people express their thoughts and show sympathy to causes dear to them.
It’s only a small thing, but this post is in support of the people of Boston.
And thanks to Christy and Dawn of the MFA Press office for being helpful and providing images.
All images courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Press Office