After the Boston Marathon bombings, many victims were rushed to Brigham and Women’s Hospital. They have since been discharged, but their legacy of strength lives on, thanks in part to the 10 students in a Master of Arts in Graphic Design class taught by Minko Dimov. The Brigham’s lobby now houses a gigantic “Wishing Wall” commissioned by the hospital, and designed and constructed by the students. It showcases messages of hope—from cards to banners to shawls—received from well-wishers nationwide.
Dimov always urges his students to connect design ideas to real-world issues. And so, after the marathon tragedy, his class vowed to inspire victims through art. They came up with a “Bottles of Good” initiative, tucking healing messages and plant seeds into water bottles. “Water symbolizes replenishment—both on the marathon route and philosophically,” explains Dimov. "The seeds represent rebirth.” The students personally approached the Brigham and several other hospitals, and delivered bottles to 37 patients.
Each bottle’s message, signed by the class, read: “You are receiving this small token of empathy from a dedicated group of admirers. As young designers looking for inspiration, you stimulated our creativity and we decided to dedicate this piece to you. We admire your courage. It gives us hope and empowers us to live better. Please accept our love and warmest wishes for a speedy recovery and a fulfilling life ahead.”
Brigham and Women’s Hospital was wowed by the group’s compassion and asked them to create a larger installation, prominently displayed in the hospital’s lobby, to honor the victims. The team threw themselves into construction, liaising with hospital engineers and working outside of classroom hours to get the job done.
“I couldn’t speak more highly of these students,” says Kristen Koch, the hospital’s operations manager. “They worked day and night for ten days.” Koch says the display has captivated hospital staff and visitors alike. “One marathon victim even came on installation day to thank them personally,” she adds.
The design resembles a wishing well, representing a “waterfall of goodness overflowing with compassion,” Dimov says. Notes, cards, and banners are strung from the wall using yellow and blue ribbons, the marathon’s official colors, as well as from shoelaces tied as bows, a symbolic touch. Students also crafted a sign to accompany the mementos—the heartfelt message ends with a resounding “Brigham strong!”
The installation remains through July, but it’s just the beginning for Dimov’s designers. He’s now building what he calls an “impromptu studio,” an evolving space at Suffolk where civic-minded students can create art for hospitals, nonprofits, and other community partners. “It’s a bridge between the classroom and the real world,” he says. “After the response from Brigham and Women’s, we’re so excited and encouraged.”