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Local News

April 19, 2014

'Boston Strong?'

Artist questions media focus after marathon bombings

PEABODY — One year ago, two bombs exploded at the Boston Marathon, killing three bystanders and injuring hundreds of others. It forever changed the way we remember one of Boston’s most storied events. “Boston Strong” quickly became a symbol of the city’s unity and resilience in the face of tragedy.

But what about all the people who have been killed in Boston since then?

“As much as we’re all saddened and shocked by the marathon, why are those (victims) more worthy of our sympathy than 50 people who have been murdered?” said Peabody native Jason Pramas, an artist, photojournalist and adjunct communications professor at Lesley University.

It could be argued that many of the murder victims were killed by local terrorists with guns, Pramas says, but there’s no outpouring of sympathy or financial support for their families.

Pramas, 47, is one of three artists featured in the exhibit “Boston Strong?” on display through April 22 at the Community Church of Boston’s Lothrop Auditorium, which is just a block from the marathon finish line in Copley Square.

The exhibit is a mixture of charcoal sketches, collages with newsprint, headlines and images about recent murders around Boston, and photos and research on some of the largest corporate donors to the marathon bombing victims’ funds.

“We think there needs to be a dialogue, you might call it an urban/suburban dialogue,” Pramas said, adding that he also spent much of his childhood in Dorchester, where one side of his family is from. He lives in Cambridge now.

He and fellow artists Shea Justice and Darrell Ann Gane-McCalla say there’s a disparity in media coverage between the two groups of victims, and they question what it actually means to be “Boston Strong.”

“We’re trying to make people think,” Pramas said. They took the project a step further by inviting guest speakers to focus the discussion. A panel featuring activist Mel King, Tina Chéry of the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute and hip-hop poet Ant Thomas opened the exhibit on Wednesday.

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