This poster is commentary on the country's mass shooting epidemic. It's inspired by Senator Tammy Baldwin's testimony during the Democratic filibuster for gun control during which told the story of every victim in the Pulse Nightclub shooting. It's also a tribute to a friend I lost in a mass shooting.
As a viewer approaches the poster, they are confronted by the stories of 570 people killed in mass shootings across the country, and is asked to reflect upon the degree to which the Second Amendment protected those lives. The audience for this poster was my fellow students at the University of Washington.
University of Washington
University of Washington
Create a poster that provokes reflection about the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution.
Reach as diverse an audience as possible within the UW student body.
Accurately tell the stories of mass shooting victims.
Tammy Baldwin (D–WI) on the Senate floor during the Democratic filibuster for gun control (June 15, 2016)
I ruled out imagery that would prevent viewers from engaging with the poster—no guns and no bullets. To provoke meaningful reflection, I wanted the audience to consider how they felt about gun rights in the US after reading about mothers and teachers and infants and officers who lost their lives to gun violence. I wanted them to learn about Anna, a fellow Husky, whose life may have been spared if her ex-boyfriend wasn’t so easily able to obtain a gun.
I spent days pulling the names and ages of mass shooting victims from the Gun Violence Archive and organizing them into a spreadsheet. Then, through lots of tears and heartarche, I spent weeks searching through obituaries or GoFundMe memorial pages of every single victim pulling one positive memory or testimony for each individual.
From edge to edge the poster documents the names, ages, and stories of the deceased victims of mass shootings in the US beginning with Pulse, then the deadliest mass shooting in modern history, and ending with the tragedy in Las Vegas on October 1, 2017, now the deadliest mass shooting in modern history.
“THEY HAD HOPES AND DREAMS” set in a highly legible, bold Proxima Nova, is meant to be vague, drawing the audience closer for context and meaning. The words, clear from a distance, become less and less legible fading into the background as a viewer approaches.
The names and stories are set in Optima against a black background, and each victim is separated by a dot, a nod to Maya Lin’s Vietnam Memorial and its everlasting ability to make audiences reflect on our nation’s history of violence.
Included amongst the names is the definition of a mass shooting used by the national Gun Violence Archive and for this poster. Highlighted is Anna’s name and story. The poster culminates with a definition of the Second Amendment and a question that reads: “The Second Amendment protects your right to have and bear arms, but when 570 people with so much life left to live have been killed from 254 mass shootings over the past 18 months… When do we decide enough is enough?” The reader is then provided with a link to Everytown.org to learn more about gun safety in America and how they can act.
The making of this poster was long and emotionally taxing. I spent weeks sorting through the Gun Violence Archive creating a spreadsheet that I would then use to research each victim. Often times, I'd end up reading multiple news articles about a particular shooting and be in tears after reading testimony of an individual's heroism. I found myself having to take frequent breaks watching silly YouTube videos just to get through the project. The final printing of the poster also proved to be particularly dificult. The fading effect of the large print required a very specific opacity that could only be achieved through trial and error. I spent hours by the printer adjusting the opacity of the white type by 1% increments until the poster worked as intended. Despite these challenges, this is the most rewarding and fulfilling project I've done yet, and I feel privileged to tell these stories.