Guest Post: Boston Marathon Prayer Canvas

Karen Nakashima, our school’s art teacher, graduated from Art Center College of Art in Design (BFA) and Otis College of Art & Design (MFA). After working in the art/ design hospitality field for 10 years as a project manager & artist for 4 star hotels & resorts, she decided to pursue a career in education. Karen has taught art in South LA for the past five years. Karen also volunteers on the board of Kids Reading to Succeed, is an active LA Derby Doll, and takes incredible pictures of the best food in LA. Karen is one of the kindest and most hardworking individuals I know.  At KIPP we all agree that when we grow up, we want to be like Karen. She is a role model to all of us. Karen is spending her spring break in Boston, sharing our school’s prayer canvas. In memory of the Boston Marathon bombing, I asked her to post on her trip to Boston. Thank you Karen! 

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A year ago, the tragic event of the Boston Marathon Bombing led to innocent people wounded and killed.   But through this tragedy, countless people and organizations rallied around the victims and the city of Boston to show love, grit, zest, leadership, and optimism.  Our inner city school in Los Angeles- KIPP: Academy of Opportunity, was invited to participate in a community art project honoring the victims of the bombing.  The Prayer Canvas was designed to show America’s unity & humanity where all 50 states across the US participated.

So I find myself in Boston, freezing and exhausted, on the anniversary of the bombing but exhilarated as the whole city is electrified for the Boston Marathon this Monday.  I’m in a small white tent talking to so many people from all different ages, backgrounds, cities, countries of the US, Germany, Austria, Columbia, UK, India and they are all writing well wishes from this tragedy.  One woman from Boston said that because her son had to use the restroom, they just missed the bombing area.

Outside, there are hundreds of prayer canvases (non-denomination) spread out on the Boston Common where the public can view them.  They are signed by different organizations including the Boys & Girl Club, various schools, US Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, and professional sports teams.  I was told that our school’s artwork was right behind Vice President Biden during his Boston Marathon bombing anniversary speech!


Although I’ll be leaving earlier on Saturday, I can imagine all of the incredible Boston Marathon runner’s spirit and spectators cheering them on!!  Although the Boston Marathon bombing was a unspeakable tragedy, art community projects like the Prayer Canvas connects us to human compassion and symbolizes unity as a nation.

The Prayer Canvas was started by one woman- Kari Wagner, who wanted to make a difference.  Along with six moms from her children’s school, she wanted to create something free and available to everyone regardless of their abilities, age, or personal beliefs.  “We started this but along the way, it has been a healing tool for all of us…”

P.S. I’m so proud of Cristina for qualifying for the Boston Marathon next year.   I’ll be rooting for her all the way!!

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