The Hippo


May 31, 2020








Carla Roy and the young artists with the Haley Rae Martin Mural Project piece. Courtesy photo.

Haley Rae Martin mural project

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Hope through art
Teens complete Haley Rae Martin mural in Concord

By Kelly Sennott

 At the center of the new downtown Concord mural is a pair of hands — one black, one white — that hold a globe and morph into trees against a bright blue, red and violet sky. When you look closely, you’ll also see a silhouette, in the bottom right corner, of a girl taking a picture.

For Holly and Glenn Martin, the public art installation on the Main Street CVS represents a lot of things. It represents their daughter, Haley Rae Martin, pictured in the silhouette, whom they lost in 2012 to an overdose at age 19. It showcases her favorite colors, her love of photography and her mantra to love and accept people for who they are.
“She’d see people getting kicked out of the house who didn’t have a place to live. She’d bring them here and say, ‘This one can’t go home,’ or ‘This one hasn’t had anything to eat.’ She always had an open door here,” Holly Martin said via phone. “She didn’t judge people, and she didn’t want to be judged. She accepted people for who they were, and she liked everyone.”
The mural also represents young people working together and supporting one another, which, after their daughter’s death — during a party at which nobody called an ambulance right away, they suspect for fear of arrest — offers some hope. 
The Haley Rae Martin Mural Project stemmed from a yearly scholarship program the couple started for Kimball Jenkins teens in 2012, with funds coming from the Martin family, friends and BAE Systems, where Glenn Martin works. 
Even though Haley Rae Martin never took formal art lessons, her parents knew she liked art, photography in particular, from the hundreds and hundreds of photos they found on her computer, taken with the Canon EOS 60D they gave her for graduation. Their hope in establishing the scholarship was to remove obstacles for other teens looking for artistic outlets, and since its inception, it’s raised $24,000 and helped 40 kids.
“Nothing’s going to bring our daughter back,” Holly Martin said. “But we thought, maybe we can make someone’s life a little simpler by having [the scholarships] available.”
About a year ago, Kimball Jenkins Director Ryan Linehan realized the scholarship program had been going so well that he had more money than scholarships to give. He proposed the idea of a teen mural project to the Martins, who loved it.
“It keeps the memory of our daughter alive as well,” Glenn Martin said. 
Linehan invited teens ages 15 to 19 to apply to the art team via applications and follow-up interviews. He chose Griffin Hansen, Madison Godfrey, Kelsie Ward, Amanda Nahodil, Lizzie Busby, Zach Stith and Ella Browne. Art instructor Carla Roy facilitated. 
The group learned about Haley Rae Martin — her personality, passions and beliefs — and began meeting weekly in January to brainstorm ideas and start sketching. 
“We asked, ‘Why are we doing this? What impact do we want this mural to have on the community? How can we make it resonate with anyone?’” Roy said. 
They presented their ideas to city members for review, including City Manager Tom Aspell, engineer Frank Lemay, building owner Mark Cebrowski and Pam Tarbell from the Mill Brook Gallery & Sculpture Garden, who gave approval. So did the Martins.
“We just wanted to support whatever the kids wanted to do. They came up with this whole idea,” Glenn Martin said. “We were just delighted with it. For us, it was such a nice tribute to our daughter.”
The kids finished the 24-by-12-foot mural in June, and their nine panels went up July 7. 
Linehan said plans are in place for another teen mural project, with sign-up opportunities available this fall. He already has the funding and is currently scouting a location with the city. He said the project is good for the kids, teaching teamwork, compromise and the process of creating public art.
The couple hopes the mural gives more exposure to the school, the scholarship program and the epidemic. They’ve seen some progress — for instance, the Good Samaritan Law established in 2015, which grants immunity from arrest for people requesting medical assistance to save the life of an overdose victim — but there’s still a stigma they’d like to see disappear.
“There’s a big misconception that drugs are only prevalent in lower-income areas … and that is so wrong. It affects people from all socioeconomic backgrounds, and from all walks of life. It affects so many people,” Holly Martin said. “People need to understand that. It’s not a choice. Addiction is a disease.” 

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