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We Art Boston

We Art Boston

After the shock of the Boston Marathon bombing last spring, Illustration faculty member Joe McKendry 94 IL wanted to do something to help. The longtime resident of Brookline, MA and parent of three young children says he took the violent attack on April 15 especially hard given the death of the eight-year-old boy at the finish line.

“In the days following the event, I knew something had shifted in the air, and in me,” McKendry explains. Wanting to take positive action, he originally thought of donating to relief efforts by auctioning off a few of the paintings he’d made to illustrate Beneath the Streets of Boston, his first children’s book. But when he spoke to his friends and colleagues about the idea, he discovered that most of them were also looking for a tangible way to help.

That’s when the idea for We Art Boston began to take shape. Working with his wife Susan, McKendry invited more than 50 children’s book illustrators to contribute artwork to a fundraising event and online auction to benefit the Emergency and Trauma Fund at Boston Children’s Hospital, which had helped many of the injured last spring. “We wanted to focus specifically on kids and on the healing power of art,” he says. “For most children’s book illustrators, drawing pictures is how we share ideas and stories – and convey excitement and hope.”

McKendry has enlisted illustrators to donate original works of art from some of the most recognizable and well-loved children’s books. Many fellow RISD faculty and alumni are among the participants, including Anna Alter 97 IL, Senior Critic Mary Jane Begin 85 IL, Christopher Denise 90 IL, Critic R. Kikuo Johnson 03 IL, Jarrett Krosoczska 99 IL, Grace Lin 96 IL, David Macaulay BArch 69, Aaron Meshon 95 IL, Critic Kelly Murphy 99 IL, Paolo Rivera 03 IL, Critic Marc Rosenthal, Katherine Roy 04 IL and Jared Williams 95 IL.

The online auction part of We Art Boston runs from October 10–24, punctuated by a family event at the Rose F. Kennedy Greenway (across from the Boston Aquarium) on Sunday, October 20. That day families are invited to view and bid on the donated artwork, listen to live music, create their own art, commission a stuffed animal portrait and, perhaps most importantly, feel safe in their city again.

McKendry hopes to bring in at least $30,000 through the We Art Boston fundraiser. But most of all, he says, since “the trauma of the bombing impacted the lives of so many children in ways that went beyond physical injuries, it was important to find a way to contribute to the healing of the entire community. It feels good to take action.”