Florence artist Amita Bhakta couldn’t paint after seeing the school shooting in Newton, Conn.

She didn’t feel like touching colors. Her world had gone grey.

“I was just thinking about all the people who were touched by this event,” Bhakta said. “I could not create. I was working on a painting at that time, and I couldn’t paint anything.”

So Bhakta changed mediums. She left behind the pallet and brush and picked up clay.

What she created was a 26-figure set — six adults and 20 children, each one representing one of the children who was killed in the Newton shootings.

Each child has their interests represented on the figures — painted in grey.

“Everything they left behind, which is on their garment, is grey,” Bhakta said. “It has less color now. Their dreams of driving a car, flying a plane, becoming an astronaut.

Represented on various figurines representing the children are their family, their love of school, their pets, their gardens, sports, learning and music.

“I started taking details from the kids when the story was coming on the news; one loved the New York Giants, one loved the Cowboys,” Bhakta said.

“I started thinking, everyone who passes — there is nobody who hasn’t suffered untimely death — you feel so helpless. I walked away from being specific and thought about anybody’s death and started painting anything that gets left behind.”

Such is the power of art.

This is understood most by artists and art lovers. And on Saturday and Sunday, downtown Florence will be overflowing with art, drawing artists and art lovers together.

Tents and booths will crop up in Wilson Park like so many mushrooms after a rain. Each filled with art, bringing the park to life. And across the street at the Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts, there will be a juried selection of pieces — including Bhakta’s.

Mhairi Frank, chairwoman of the Arts Alive Festival, said they expect to have 95 exhibitors in the park with 55 in the gallery.

Frank said the wide variety of art, mediums and styles is because of the range of which they draw submissions.

“We have fiber, acrylic, we have a couple of superb wood workers coming into the park, some clay workers, and a great selection of art work in the painting mediums, a diversity of clay and, of course, jewelers as well,” Frank said.

T-shirts for Arts Alive along with posters will be available said Barbara Broach, director of arts and museums in Florence.

Youth T-shirts were designed by Cole Heatherly, a first-grader at Webster School, and are $10. Adult T-shirts were designed by Florence artist Phyllis White and are $12. The posters are the same design as the adult shirt and are free with a donation.

Bobby Bozeman can be reached at 256-740-5722 or bobby.bozeman@TimesDaily.com.

Want to go?

Bobby Bozeman can be reached at 256-740-5722 or bobby.bozeman@TimesDaily.com.

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