3 Months Project

As an initiative of Westwood High School's extracurricular Ceramics Club, a group of eighteen art students, together with two art educators, made a monumental sculptural installation that addresses the issue of gun violence. The work was installed on two large walls at Montserrat College of Art and Design's Arnheim Gallery for an exhibit in 2017, and then re-envisioned a second time with illumunating LED lights (placed outside and on the ground) for an exhibit at Westwood High School in 2018. 
 
The installation contains 706 handcrafted clay vessels. Each vessel represents one child or teenager who was killed by gun violence in the last three months.*  Through representing such a large number, the work draws attention to the horrifying toll that gun violence inflicts on us in a nation of rampant guns and minimal gun control.  The installation also highlights the personal, unique and fragile nature of each clay piece. The organic forms, left unfired, are each unique and beautiful. The raw forms are deliberately unfinished: like the young people who died, their lives were suddenly and terrifyingly interrupted.
 
The process of making this work was deeply collaborative and emotional. Each completed vessel evoked a response in the group of collaborating artists. Through the making, the group reflected deeply on how each child is lovingly raised and formed.  in the first installation, the stark way that these were displayed on the walls emphasized the tragedy, sorrow, loss and emptiness we experience when faced by our nation’s apathetic and fearful response to gun violence.  In the second installation, the presence of lights inside the forms - as well as their placement on the ground - gave more a feeling of illuminated votives.
 
The work aims to move viewers to step beyond the statistics and into the sorrow and grief of this issue, as a way to provoke change through action and conversation.

This project was created by Liam Rooney, Madeline Medina, Matt Donlon, Gillian Conley, Jason Moy, Mia Sullivan, Mandy Hanna, Kate Jellinghaus and Arianne Barrett. I
t was facilitated by: Dasha Shterenberg, Abaigael Belcher, Celia Pietmontese, Bella Messina, Katherine Brennen, Quinn Dyson, Matt Capone, Chris Capone, Daniel Xu, Kenjaya Drayton, Daniela Serratore and Hannah Shaby.

Special thanks also to Westwood High School Art Department, Massachusetts College of Art and Design's Art Education Department and to art educator Jean Wallace for including us in her exhibit entitled "Challenging Curriculum in the Visual Arts."

 
* A note on our methodology:  It takes a full two years for the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control to issue verifiable death counts by firearms. The number 706 represents ¼ of the total number of gun deaths for children and teens (age 0-19) for the most recent available year of data: 2015. This includes all forms of death by guns. However, since then, all signs indicate that this number is only rising. Therefore, 706 is likely a conservative average for 3 months of youth gun deaths in 2017. The final tally is likely to be more. We have also added the most recent data from the website: gunarchive.org, which gives a running, more immediate tally of day-to-day incidents as they are reported in the news. This data, which includes children both killed and injured, gives a more immediate picture of the devastation that is happening right now.