In Loving Memory: Gun Violence in Brooklyn, New York
This project is the second in a series of projects I am working on focused on the gun violence crisis in the United States. For this project, I photographed fatal shooting sites in Brooklyn and superimposed onto the images memorials for the victims.
The purpose of the project is to ask viewers to “attend a memorial” for each victim and engage in conversation around gun violence. Too often, we are not exposed to the gun violence that is happening every day in our own neighborhoods, as media coverage is less robust than it is after, for example, mass shootings - which account for a small fraction of the country’s gun deaths. Yet approximately 96 people die on average from guns each day in the United States, and for every one person killed with guns, two more are injured. Black men are 13 times more likely than non-Hispanic white men to be shot and killed with guns.
The memorials are enhanced in color and size to emphasize/honor the memorial yet highlight its impermanence within the scene. Each memorial is paired with a quote from family/friends found in news articles, video footage, fundraising sites, etc. For many victims not included in this series, I was unable to find personal information or quotes about the victim, highlighting the paucity of media attention.
In creating the memorials, I used 96 flowers – one for each of the 96 U.S. deaths each day from guns. I used primarily pink and white flowers to represent love and innocence, as well as one orange flower (orange is the gun violence awareness color) and one sunflower that I purchased at the Target in Downtown Brooklyn where there was a fatal shooting in November. I also used 34 candles to symbolize the number of homicides there are for every self-defense killing – one “justifiable” gun death for every 34 “unjustifiable” deaths (Violence Policy Center, 2015). When photographing, I left a burning candle at each site, so that the process itself of developing the art memorialized each victim.
The photographs in this series are intended in no way to blame the shooters or implicate the victims. Gun violence is all of our problem as U.S. citizens, and something we need to solve together. “In Loving Memory,” like “The Final Moments” (my earlier project), aims to humanize through storytelling, raise awareness and move viewers to take action, such as by advocating for stricter federal gun control laws to protect victims and shooters alike from the gun violence epidemic.