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School Shootings, Ash Wednesday, and Art

February 14, 2018

 

On February 14, 2018, a mass shooting occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Seventeen people were killed and seventeen more were wounded, making it one of the world's deadliest school massacres. It was also Ash Wednesday. "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return."

 

 

 

Shootings, terrorist attacks, war, a massive refugee crisis. So many human tragedies around the world. I don't know that I have much to contribute to the conversation that hasn't already been said, except that my  heart is heavy. It is a hard thing to be a mother in a world where your child may not be safe at school, or at a concert, or anywhere. And yet,  I know that that has always been the case, for being alive in this world is not safe. So, what can I do as an individual, as a mother, and as an artist? I can love my neighbor as myself. I can be present with those who are suffering. I can hold my child close. I can make art that contributes to beauty in the world rather than its destruction. Maybe, just maybe if enough people make enough beauty, we can drown out the darkness with light.

 

I made this particular sculpture after the shootings at Virginia Tech in 2007. And yet the image is relevant over and over and over and over again. The title text comes from Jeremiah 31. It says:

 

 “A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.”

 

It makes me weep every time I read it. It's not just Rachel who weeps. She's the archetype for the great voice of grieving women that rise up from the earth in light of all this violence. Why do you inflict violence upon our children? After the Virginia Tech shooting, I knew that there would be police officers who had to tell the victims' families, "Your child is dead." No matter how much time passes, they will never stop grieving. And it just keeps happening.

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