On October 1st, 2017 we lost brothers, teachers, coaches, mothers, and friends. It’s hard to believe that it has been only one year since the deadliest mass shooting in American history. For many, wounds from this horrific incident are still fresh and the struggle for closure is still prevalent. In honor of this tragic anniversary, I spoke to Quin Sweetman, the founder of the Beautiful Lives Lost portrait project. Sweetman’s project began as she listened to the NPR coverage of the shooting and struggled to make sense of such a tragedy. As an artist Sweetman’s first reaction was to turn to art; she gathered more than 50 artists and asked them to help her create portraits of the 58 people who lost their lives. Portraits are some of the most intimate pieces of art, which allows for the artists to bring these people back to life, even if only momentarily.
Each artist created their portrait in a personal way. Some created collages, others simply painted a face picture, and others framed their portraits with words describing their person. The artists were not able to produce these overnight. This emotional journey took weeks and in some cases even months, but the finished product was well worth the wait. Our very own interim art teacher, Ms. Kollman, was inspired to take part in the project. She painted Quinton Robbins, a 20 year old male that reminded her of her son, which made this project extremely personal.
The outpouring of support and love received through the Beautiful Lives Lost Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/beautifulliveslost/) has been insurmountable. This online popularity has brought local media attention to the project and brought awareness to those around the nation. Quinn also spoke to Fox News Las Vegas while she was in Vegas to share the project, https://www.facebook.com/beautifulliveslost/videos/290996878171196/UzpfSTE0MTQ5NzM1NTk6MTAyMTIzMTQxMzczMTQ2Mjg/
During the first weekend of October, Sweetman and fellow artists traveled to Las Vegas to meet with families and deliver the portraits. These mementos have created unbreakable bonds to those lost only a year ago, and sheds light on the gun violence epidemic that plagues our country.
Photo Source: http://rene-art.com/beautifullivesshow/