An art installation that seeks to draw attention to victims of mass shootings opened Saturday night at the Daas Co-Op Art Gallery in Fort Myers.
The exhibit, called Collateral Damage, Translated, is described as a heartfelt installation honoring victims of mass shootings in the U.S., from Columbine in 1999 to the Waffle House shooting earlier this year. It’s comprised of the names of 693 shooting victims written in black marker on white paper, mounted on walls and hanging from the ceiling.
It’s created by 17 year old Sarah Brown, a recent Fort Myers High grad who will be attending Florida State University in the fall. This is the fifth time she’s written out the names since doing it in sidewalk chalk in Centennial Park shortly after the Las Vegas massacre.
She says the process is meditative, but that she remains somewhat disconnected from the names until after she is done, and then it sets in.
“In the moment when I’m writing it doesn’t really click, but after the fact when I get to look at what I’ve done and I’m like, OK this is still big, this is still happening, and just because I’ve written it before doesn’t mean that it’s any less powerful to me, or people who have seen it for the 2nd or 3rd time, or even people who have no idea what’s going on and they see all these names in sidewalk chalk or written in sharpie hanging from the ceiling.”
Brown says she got the idea from a friend who wrote the names of people killed in the Iraq War a decade ago. She also created her Collateral Damage installation in front of the Washington National Cathedral the night before the March for Our Lives.
She says while it’s generally assumed her goal is to promote gun reform, that’s not her message.
“Yeah, I mean there are a couple of people who view it as pro-gun reform, which it’s not…it’s just awareness. It seems like it is definitely pro-gun reform, but the piece itself is 100% neutral in its message. It’s just trying to get people to pay attention, is the goal.”
Brown says she will do more installations in sidewalk chalk in the future, she’s just not exactly sure how or when. She says more than anything she hopes this exhibit, and her past and future installations, get people to feel beyond the numbers and statistics.
The exhibit remains on display until July, 7th.