Powerful Sculpture Reflects the Heartbreaking Impact of School Shootings

Last Lockdown - Sculpture Against School Shootings

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. Two Texas creatives joined forces 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,” they share 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 team 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.

Last Lockdown - Gun Violence Sculpture

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 the team. “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, they noted that the reaction of the public was largely positive.

Last Lockdown - Gun Violence Sculpture

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.”

The Last Lockdown is a powerful sculpture designed to remind the public of the very real fear many students face due to school shootings.

Last Lockdown - Gun Control Sculpture

A team of creatives came together to create 10 identical 3D printed sculptures for the special gun violence campaign.

Last Lockdown - Gun Violence Sculpture

Last Lockdown - Gun Violence Sculpture

Student activists across the United States organized events around the art installation to encourage people to vote in the 2018 midterm elections.

Student Organized Event Against Gun Violance


Last Lockdown Event Giffords


School Shooting Student Organized Event


Activist Art Against Gun Violence

California (Photo: Patricia Oliver)

My Modern Met granted permission to use photos.

This article has been updated and edited.

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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