In the months following the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February 2018, people have continued to make their voices heard in the fight to prevent further school shootings. From the National Student Walkout to teacher protests, adults and youth are joining together to ensure that children can benefit from an education without fear. And now, ahead of the 2018 mid-term elections, touching art installations around the United States continue to remind the public about this key issue.
The Last Lockdown is a series of 10 sculptures created by a team hoping to remind the public of what children are facing when they go to school today. Texas-based creatives Dan Crumrine and Sean Leonard joined forces with a team to keep the issue at the forefront and ensure that there's no complacency when it comes to protecting the younger generation. “The goal was to confront people with the reality of gun violence and how it affects children,” Crumrine shares with My Modern Met. “Even those who never experience it can still be traumatized by the drills and hearing about it from other peers.”
The duo connected with Manuel Oliver, an artist whose son Joaquin was killed at Parkland. Oliver, who has actively been using his art to push the discourse on gun control via his non-profit Change the Ref, brought his passion to the project and injected his personal experience into the design. To round out the team, 3D artist Caleb Sawyer digitally sculpted the statue for 3D printing and Adam Fontenault painted and assembled each piece.
The subject, a student cowering under a desk, clinging to one of its legs, is made for maximum emotional impact. Her face, filled with fear, is an unforgettable reminder of what many students live with each day. On top of the desk, facts about the reality of school shootings are etched for all to see. By taking this common piece of schoolhouse furniture—something that is filled with warm memories for many—and transforming it into a vessel for the powerful message, it's impossible for viewers not to come away feeling the impact.
“This visual captures a moment that should make people uneasy and unsettled,” says Crumrine. “We wanted that emotive reaction. In fact, we wanted a strong reaction from both sides of the issue, because we wanted to engage both sides.” On September 15, 2018 the art installations were unveiled in 10 cities around the United States during student-organized events. Acting as a call to action to elect officials who will protect students against acts of gun violence, Crumrine noted that the reaction of the public was largely positive.
For student activist Sydney Lewis, who organized a voter registration drive in Minnesota, the sculptures are a way to touch a wider public. “Art is one of the most powerful ways to portray a message, so it is so cool to see a statue that has this much impact on society and shapes the way we see in violence,” she tells My Modern Met. “I hope the public sees that students are still involved and this movement is not dying anytime soon. We will keep showing up at demonstrations, marches, rallies, and our legislators' offices until we see impactful changes that help save the life of every American.”
For former Representative Gabrielle Giffords, whose gun safety group Giffords helped organize the events, the sculptures are a reminder that the youth movement is willing and able to take this tragedy and use it to enact change. “Young people took this frustration and tapped into the proud American tradition of raising our voices. Now they are demanding action.”