Every year, gun violence claims 32,514 lives across the country — and 2,677 of these victims are children under the age of 20, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence has found. This means that on any given day, 89 people — seven of them children and teens — become victims of gun violence.
Statistics like these are undoubtedly sad and shocking, but they often fail to drive home the point that each of these 32,514 victims was a real human being with his or her own life, goals and interests. Behind these numbers, the human element of the tragedy is easily lost.
To more effectively represent the scale of human life lost, a new traveling art exhibit in Chicago aims to honor victims of gun violence by representing them as real people rather than numbers and statistics.
According to an April 14 Mic article, the exhibit, titled “The Unforgotten,” features eight lifelike statues of real victims of gun violence from Chicago. The Windy City has one of the nation’s highest homicide rates.
The statues — which represent Blair Holt, Jitka Vesell, Ryanne Mace, Hadiya Pendleton, Terrell Bosley, Porshe Foster, Thomas Vandenberk and Michael Bailey — all match the victims’ height, weight and build. Some of the statues are even dressed in the victims’ clothing.
The catch? These statues are all faceless — a black void where a smiling face should be.
“It does [convey] the message that my daughter was once here and she is no longer here,” Bonita Foster, who lost her 15-year-old daughter Porshe to gun violence two years ago, said.
“The Unforgotten” is a project created by the FCB Chicago Advertising Agency in collaboration with the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence (ICHV), according to the Columbia Chronicle. Each year, FCB does pro bono advertising campaigns to raise awareness about important issues. In Chicago, where gun violence claims lives almost every day, the need to raise awareness about this problem was clear.
“The overriding idea behind this came from the fact that the media spends so much time talking about stats and then you always hear about the shooter, but not much time is ever spent on the victims,” Dion McGill, program manager for ICHV, told Mic.
Outdoor exhibits and art projects are almost guaranteed to reach a wide audience, with more than 95% of Americans saying they are regularly reached by outdoor and mobile advertisements.
Currently, “The Unforgotten” is on display in the plaza at Huron and Rush, outside St. James’ Cathedral. Throughout the coming weeks, the exhibit will travel throughout Illinois.