Written by Isabella Ji and Jenny Xu
Reality check. A young girl frosted in bronze hiding under a school desk with worry creasing her forehead spreads awareness all over the nation.
On February 14, 2018, a teenage gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Seventeen people were killed in the shooting, and fourteen others were wounded. The shooting marked a turning point in which Americans needed to put an end to mass shootings. After the shooting, people all over the country began protesting gun violence. The shooting led to a movement, the March for Our Lives, which advocates for stricter gun laws. The movement resulted in passing major legislation related to gun violence. Soon, there was a nation-wide student walkout and many teachers protested to ensure that children could learn without fear.
Since the shooting, gun violence has become a key issue that many people are raising awareness for through art. One of these art pieces includes Manuel Oliver's statue. Oliver created a bronze statue with a girl hanging onto a desk leg; she practically begs for her life whilst a lockdown. Oliver lost his son Joaquin due to the shooting and created his statue called “The Last Lockdown” to raise awareness.
Art is one of the most powerful ways to portray a message, and this sculpture impacts society and shapes the way that it sees violence. It serves as a reminder of the youth movement and demonstrates its ability to enact change after a tragedy.
This sculpture is a real desk coated in bronze paired with a 3D printed little girl in bronze. On top of the desk, there are six facts about gun violence in the U.S. and a helpline that elects leaders to protect other students. Among the statistics, the fact that “Nearly 60% of teens say they are worried about a shooting happening at their school,” reflects the fear that many students have.
“The Last Lockdown” is one of nine other identical sculptures that are located throughout America. Some of the sculptures are strategically placed in districts where certain members of Congress that work with gun lobbyists reside. Other locations include the Center for Social Justice in las Vegas, Houston’s City Hall, and philadelphia’s Museum of Art.
All ten of these identical statues were organized by a new campaign founded by two senior creators, David Crumrine and Sean Leonard. Both of these creators were frustrated by the Parkland shooting. They decided to work with Oliver, a gun violence activist, and Caleb Sawyer, the 3D artist who created the statues.
Cumrine said that “the goal was to confront people with the reality of gun violence and how it affects children. Even those who never experience it can still be traumatized by the drills and hearing about it from other peers.”
The statues allow audiences to not only conceptualize it, but also feel, touch, and see the grim reality of the shooting.
In some cases, it is hard for adults to understand the fear that students experience during a lockdown procedure. Now, adults can better understand thanks to Oliver, Crumrine, Leonard, and their powerful statues.