Garden of Peace, a Place for Grief and Hope
Planned by landscape architect Catherine Melina and sculptor Judy Kensley McKie, this memorial to victims of homicide provides a pathway and suggests a journey. Captions in these four photos are quoted from Catherine Melina’s artist statement on the Garden of Peace website.
The granite lens, ‘Tragic Density’ represents the visible surface, a mere sliver, of the huge stone of sadness and grief buried in the hearts of those who have suffered the loss of a loved one to homicide. (Catherine Melina is sculptor of ‘Tragic Density’ and designer of the Garden.)
Along the pathway running through the Garden, seat walls provide a place where we can sit and meet with friends and family, or quietly contemplate.
Judy Kensley McKie attempts to deal with the pain, anger, and grief caused by her son’s murder through her sculpture, ‘Ibis Ascending’, an expression of hope for the future.
Each stone is different, representing the uniqueness of each individual, yet united they create their impact through the number of names inscribed.
I visited the Garden of Peace for the first time a few months ago, shortly after I decided to post about the work of women on Public Art Walk Boston. I’ve gone back twice since then and plan to go again for the thirteenth annual gathering in September to honor victims of violence in Massachusetts. That would include more than 970 names already engraved, plus those added in 2017. I believe that I will have more to say or show after being with people who interact with the commemorative stones, walls, and walkways. For now I’ll share information from valuable links with compelling essentials about this memorial space.
Entries and Pathways
Captions in the next four photos also are quoted from Catherine Melina’s artist statement on the Garden of Peace website.
The Garden of Peace will serve as an urban space that can be used by people working and living in the area.
A stream is typically full of water, the life-giver, but this stream is dry, containing only the names of victims inscribed on river stones, reminding us of the lives lost.
The bark of the River Birch changes color with each season and with ongoing maturity. These trees grow best in groups, each tree drawing strength from the other, the way we as individuals draw strength from our family, friends, and community.
There is also an entrance into the Garden from the Plaza itself. It will be flanked by a wall on which donors will be acknowledged for their generosity in funding the construction of this significant addition to the public open space of the city, and the commemoration of the hundreds of citizens of Massachusetts who have lost their lives through the act of homicide.
Captions and the statement below are quoted from Judy Kensley McKie’s artist statement on the Garden of Peace website.
The cast bronze sculpture I have designed depicts three ibis ascending.
The ibis is a heron-like bird that was considered sacred to the ancient Egyptians. It represented their god, Thoth, who was the god of wisdom, healing, love and truth.
It was also the symbol of resurrection.
I want to create a monument that will be uplifting and positive – a universal symbol of the transformation that is possible.
“Since Jesse was murdered, I have felt the need for a place where his life and spirit could be remembered along with all those others who have suffered similar deaths: a place where those who have lost loved ones to violence could gather to leave flowers and to share the unbearable pain of such a loss.I believe every parent who loses a child to violence goes through the process of trying to figure out what they can do to effect change so that this will never happen again – to anyone.”
The Garden of Peace website offers comprehensive and detailed information, as well as links to anti-violence organizations. I have added a link to the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute here because that link was not working on the Garden of Peace listing.
Biographies of Catherine Melina and Judy Kensley McKie indicate the range of work and perspective combined in their collaboration. For images of many other animals in Judy McKie’s paintings, drawings, furniture and sculpture, click here.
For the Garden of Peace location and basic description as a site on the Public Art Walk Boston, click here. For an overview and more about one hundred sites on Public Art Walk Boston, click here.
Please comment with questions or ideas that could improve this post. Many thanks.