The Boston Herald

Friday, March 10, 2006

FIERY ASSAULT STOKES CONSCIENCE OF ARTISTS

By Laurel J. Sweet

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but Scott Capella, the homeless man set aflame by two twisted thugs, had to rely on his imagination yesterday to appreciate an artwork created as a testament to his life and near-death.

"A Safe Bed is a Human Right," is what artists Magda Fernandez and Matthew Mazzotta [correction: Clay Ward], both staffers at MIT, named their tribute to Capella, 30. Cobbled together from blankets, pillows, blocks of ice and the sound of an S.O.S. signal, the work took form yesterday in the North End's Langone Park on the very patch of grass where last Sunday Capella was pummeled, doused with fuel and lighted on fire. His assailants have not been caught.

"Shock and awe. It blew me away," Capella said yesterday from his bed at Massachusetts General Hospital, where he remains on the mend from severe burns to his left leg and foot.

Artist Clay Ward visited Capella Wednesday to share his and Fernandez's vision, which was funded by the Council for the Arts at MIT and given the blessing of the Boston Parks Department.

Fernandez explained the ice is meant to soothe the scorched earth, while the blankets are red to illustrate Capella's suffering and the violence that befell him.

"We felt that we couldn't just sit on our hands," Fernandez said. "What happened to Scott Capella was an egregious act."

"He's a member of our city. Everybody cares, which I think is important to publicize so the homeless community knows this isn't just something Boston is going to shrug off and forget."

GRAPHIC: BURNING MEMORY: Clay Ward and Magda Fernandez display an art piece honoring Scott Capella, the homeless man set aflame by assailants. STAFF PHOTO BY MARK GARFINKEL

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