NEW YORK (PIX11) — June is Gun Violence Awareness Month, and one group of students is using creativity to make a statement about this national crisis.
Every year, the students at the Riverdale Country School challenge themselves by choosing a different topic of societal importance and trying to figure out how art can respond to it.
This year, students created the “You Know the Drill” display in collaboration with the Soul Box project, a Bronx-based initiative that uses art to advocate for gun safety.
“It includes a map of states where criminals previously convicted of gun violence can legally purchase firearms, including the dreaded assault rifle,” said student Bennet Gorman.
The project is designed to look like a detective’s crime board and features collage poetry made from news articles written about gun violence. It also includes critical facts about shootings.
“Our project poses no direct solution but it does offer our community inspiration to take the first step down whatever path will provide justice for the victims of gun violence and create a future without it,” added Gorman.
Soul Box Project board member Beverly Emers said the issues of gun violence and gun safety hit close to home.
“I live in the South Bronx and often see makeshift memorials on the sidewalk. As a mother, I fear for my son’s life, walking down the street and decided to curate an art show,” Emers said.
Each year, the Projects in Contemporary Art class (PICA) tackles a topic that impacts society.
“This year alone, by late March I believe, there had already been 200 mass shootings in the United States. That’s more than one mass shooting per day,” said artist and educator Nicky Enright.
Congressman Ritchie Torres was on-hand to present a citation at the school. Torres has been outspoken about the lack of action in Washington on gun control.
“We must be careful to never normalize gun violence. There is nothing normal or natural about living in a world where mothers and grandmothers are burying their own children and grandchildren. Washington has failed you, but I have hope because the young people here are the generation that is going to save our country, from gun violence,” said Torres.
The lawmaker was so impressed by the project that he invited the students to install it in his district office.