Not long after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, Sugar Creek Art Center artist-in-residence Mary McCartney-Jones had a dream. In it, a little blonde girl came to her. She could see her eyes very clearly and noticed that she was wearing a white dress with little black flowers. Gradually, more children came to her in the dream until she counted 20 total. She hadn’t watched much of the Sandy Hook news reports, and wasn’t really certain how many children had died, but for some reason she felt as though the children in her dream were those who had lost their lives at Sandy Hook. Mary went to her computer and searched among the 20 children until she found the little blonde girl wearing a white dress with a large black flower; it was then she knew she had to paint the children of Sandy Hook.

Each of them has been captured in a breathtaking painting, in which their eyes are the focus. The images line the wall at the Sugar Creek Art Center in Thorntown, next to a powerful mixed-media piece which depicts an angel draped over the earth, held in the hand of God. The name of the children are barely noticeable in the angel’s wing, and the teachers’ names are printed above because they were protecting the children that day. The earth in the painting is smeared and imperfect; Mary, who cried throughout the entire three-week process, knew she couldn’t depict the world as a perfect place under such tragic circumstances.

The mixed-media piece is displayed on a lovely easel, purchased through a CFBC Mini Art Grant, awarded each fall to teachers and nonprofits. These grants are made possible by contributions from the Back to the Fifties Festival.