Boston University College of Fine Arts Community Finds Healing through Art

in Alumni, CFA, CFA Newsmakers, Music, Opera, Theatre, Visual Arts
April 23rd, 2013

Above: In the wake of the tragedy that occurred at the Boston Marathon, College of Fine Arts Dean Benjamín Juárez talks about the duty of the arts community at Boston University to create “pockets of hope” in this difficult time.

Schools of Music, Theatre, and Visual Arts students demonstrate resilience in responding to tragic violence of Boston Marathon, new artistic outreach program aides in Boston Medical Center patients’ recovery

Boston, MA – In response to the tragic violence of the Boston Marathon and the succeeding events the devastating week brought forth, students at Boston University College of Fine Arts (CFA) are joining together to help those injured, and to help one another.

Among those lost that day was LU Lingzi (GRS ’14), a BU graduate student. Though pursuing a statistics degree, LU also studied piano at CFA because music brought her joy. Music was part of her identity, just as LU was part of ours.

With three lives lost, hundreds injured, and thousands stunned, students at CFA’s Schools of Music, Theatre, and Visual Arts have demonstrated resilience. Through the Arts Outreach Initiative, an unprecedented partnership between the Boston University Medical Campus and CFA to build productive relationships between artistic creativity and health care practices, students are stepping forth to use their individual crafts to help the 23 victims being treated at Boston Medical Center, BU’s affiliated academic hospital.

“Since last October, the Arts Outreach Initiative, has been articulating an ongoing artistic presence in the Medical Campus, with special emphasis at Boston Medical Center,” says Moisès Fernández Via, Project Curator & Researcher for the Arts Outreach Initiative. “At this very moment, BMC is providing care to patients injured at the Boston Marathon. Surgical and Trauma units are dealing with exceptional levels of stress and anxiety. Nurses and staff are working under an exceptionally overloaded emotional context.”

In the face of the extraordinary circumstances of that tragic week, the next generation of artists shares a message of hope, resilience, and collaboration. “For the Arts Outreach Initiative, this exceptional moment demands an exceptional response — understanding that not only medical care is required at this point, but stress relief, consolation, and empathy,” continued Fernández Via.

Almost immediately, students from the School of Visual Arts launched Still Running: An Art Marathon for Boston, an open call for art to celebrate strength and raise money. And, in a remarkable spirit of community, both casts of the Opera Institute’s production of La Clemenza di Tito, shared their final performance with one cast performing Act 1, and the alternate cast performing Act 2. Music and Theatre students are also responding to the devastation, performing for patients injured at the Marathon, and staff at BU Medical Campus, as part of the new outreach initiative, are focusing on artistic intervention.

“We’ve heard it said that the arts community comes together during times of tragedy,” says Benjamín Juárez, Dean of Boston University College of Fine Arts. “In the days immediately following the Boston Marathon, I witnessed this first-hand.”

Educating the Citizen Artist is central to CFA’s mission. Since September, CFA has celebrated this with initiatives and programming. Commencing CFA’s Keyword Initiative’s second year, much of the College’s programming, discussions, and collaborations have revolved around the annual theme, or keyword, of resilience — the buoyancy of the human spirit in times of war, tragedy, hardship, suffering, and oppression. The Keyword Initiative is a project funded by Nancy Livingston (COM ’69) and her husband, Fred Levin, through the Shenson Foundation, in memory of Ben and A. Jess Shenson.

“None of us could have predicted the relevance of CFA’s KEYWORD: ‘Resilience’ before the tragic events of April 15th,” continues Dean Juárez. “Wounded, the city of Boston mourned, and did what this great city, the birthplace of America, has done before: it grew stronger, more resilient, and I am so proud to say that our CFA community did the same.”

As CFA’s community of Citizen Artists continue to demonstrate the power of art in the healing process, please visit bu.edu/cfa for ongoing updates and more information.