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Art project commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Cape Cod Canal

Karen Scata Bos

Artist Mission Statement

To honor the Cape Cod Canal Centennial Celebration, my hope was to create a piece of art that would reflect the Canal’s maritime and economic history as well as American ingenuity.

My vision was to create a large, stylized American flag that would encompass the meaning of the Canal to those who live in the surrounding towns.  Since the towns of Bourne, Sandwich and Wareham are participating in the Centennial events, I enlisted the help and harnessed the creativity of the school children in those towns.  I began by asking the students what the Cape Cod Canal meant to them.  I then asked them to draw a picture of their interpretation of the Cape Cod Canal.  Hundreds of drawings were created and collected.  I then worked with a panel of judges to choose the 100 drawings that best met our goal.

The students whose drawings were chosen, then applied their art work directly onto the
red and white stripes of the 4’ x 8’ flag.  The field of blue has 6 giant starfish to represent that Massachusetts was the sixth state to join the Union in 1788.  The starfish also serve as a reminder of the great maritime and civil engineering achievement that the building of the Canal demonstrated.

As I worked with the students, a most unexpected happening occurred.  I began to receive calls from the art teachers of the schools involved.  They related stories about the individual students who were participating in the project.  One girl was in Special Ed and was always in trouble.  She was never chosen to participate in anything.  The art teacher said being part of the project has made the girl feel proud and confident and her behavior has improved markedly.  A boy who was chosen to draw is autistic.  He spends very little time in the mainstream school.  The project allowed him to be included with his peers.  One art teacher did not want to include a difficult boy in the project, even though his drawing was chosen.  A letter was sent to the boy’s mom for permission.  She opened the letter assuming it was a suspension slip, only to be overjoyed that her son was being honored.  I worked after school hours with the boy on his portion of the project.  It was a rewarding experience for me.  The most touching story was about a little girl who drew the Canal inside the shape of a heart.  It was sweet and endearing and I kept going back to it during the selection process.  I finally included it the 100 drawings.  Not long afterwards, I received a call from her art teacher explaining the importance of the selection.  The student had received a pacemaker.   The heart in the drawing was more than just a heart, it depicted life itself.

This piece is truly a collaborative effort.   It began over two years ago with a positive vote from the Cape Cod Canal Centennial Celebration Committee to move forward with an artistic representation.  I worked closely with the Superintendents of the three school districts, Dr. Richard Canefield of Sandwich Public Schools, Steve Lamarche of the Bourne Public Schools and Barry Rabinovitch of the Wareham Public Schools.

Generous grants from the Arts Foundation of Cape Cod and Figawi Charities Inc. allowed me to initiate the project and purchase necessary supplies.  The BIC Corporation generously donated acid-free markers to the student artists as well as cases of markers to the participating schools for their general use. BIC is sponsoring the float displaying the art work in the Bourne 4th of July Parade.
They are also contributing 100 t-shirts, with the picture of the art project, to the students involved.
I am honored to be able to share the artwork and to be part of such an historic event.  I could not have completed the project without the enthusiasm and creativity of the school art teachers and their students.  I am grateful for their support.  The student drawings and their stories are the most treasured part of the project.  I am proud of their accomplishments.  They are the future!

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2014 Bourne 4th of July parade

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Bourne on the 4th of July parade 2014

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2014 Figawi Charity Ball

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2014 Bourne on the 4th of July parade