Collaboration Along the Kindness CorridorPosted on: July 7, 2012 in People & Places
As of May 2012, a new and very special piece of artwork graces the east lobby of the College of Education at the University of Arizona.
The UA is now officially part of the Ben’s Bells Kindness Corridor.
The inspiration for the whimsical, brightly colored mosaic originally came about when the dean of the college, Ron Marx, PhD, was volunteering at Tucson’s Sewell Elementary School with the Cats in the Community in 2011. During that experience, he worked on a different mosaic as part of the Kindness Corridor, a series of kindness-themed mosaic art and murals created by local artists, students and Tucson community members.
The new mosaic was inspired by the Ben's Bells project, an organization started by University of Arizona graduate Jeannette Maré-Packard (’89).
Collaborating and Creating
For the design, the UA School of Art and the College of Education came together to organize a competition. The selected design came from a water color painted by Kari Imoro (’12), who was on the cusp of graduating with her master’s degree in art education.
“The piece that inspired the mural was my impression of Tucson,” she remembers. “I’d only been there a year when I painted it.”
Imoro, now a newly-minted middle school art teacher in Ohio, worked closely with Maré-Packard and Ben’s Bells studio manager Colleen Conlin to adapt her design for the Kindness Corridor. While her original work was the inspiration, she doesn’t consider herself the primary artist.
“It was really all of us together, a community effort,” she says. “My work was the basis, but the result was a collaborative effort.”
Remembering Ben with Random Art and Acts of Kindness
Maré-Packard has a long history with her alma mater. Her father taught veterinary science and microbiology here for 25 years. She graduated from the UA in 1989 with a degree in linguistics. After getting her graduate degree in the same field from Gallaudet University, she returned to the UA and taught as an adjunct professor in the College of Education for over a decade.
But in 2002, her world was upended when her son Ben died unexpectedly of croup just before his third birthday.
“I didn’t know how I was possibly going to survive Ben’s death, but I knew I had to for my other son, Matthew,” she says. “So I worked very hard to incorporate healthy coping strategies into my life. The idea of random art came to me when I was visiting my parents on the coast of Oregon just a few months after Ben died. There was a glass artist who was making glass fishing floats and leaving them along the beach for people to find. I decided I wanted to do something surprising and beautiful, using randomly placed art.”
In the Ben’s Bells studios and across Tucson, volunteers gather to make colorful clay beads and ornaments, and then string them to make the unique Ben’s Bells. Then, several times a year, hundreds and hundreds of the bells are hung randomly in public places around the Tucson community and beyond.
If you are lucky enough to find one, it is yours to keep, with the request that you simply “take it home and pass on the kindness.”
All are invited to come and check out the new mosaic in the east lobby of the College of Education at 1430 E. Second St.