Banner Art: Photo detail by Brian Price, from Street Memorial for Hardy Celestin
These images were selected from “Life worth remembering: Images from four street memorials,” our first exhibit that eventually evolved into Ubuntu Arts. This 2006 project originated from a faculty, administration, student, and community collaboration at Wheelock College, Boston. The images are composites of digital photographs taken at the sites of four street memorials that had been spontaneously created for four of the eight youth (age 21 and under) who were shot dead on Boston’s streets over the last several months of 2006.
The project was inspired by the poignancy of the memorials themselves, the lack of meaningful media coverage of the tragic losses of the youth, and the disturbing way in which we in society seem to have become accustomed to the violent death of young men of color as part of daily life in our city neighborhoods.
The memorials are community documentations of the value of loved ones lost to violence and are typically constructed spontaneously by friends and family close to the sites where the youths died. Contributing to a memorial honors the victim and helps survivors express and manage their sorrows.
Viewing the memorials allows us to feel the importance of each of the youth who died a violent death, to empathize with the subsequent ripples of losses and traumas suffered by loved ones and communities, and to consider the difficulties of living in communities where violence creates suffering. We believe that our losses include both victims and perpetrators, as both represent losses for our neighborhoods and our society.
It is our hope that when we are moved to experience the impact of community violence more deeply and emotionally, each of us, as interconnected members of society, will be motivated to realize that we each have a role to play. It is essential that we generate the attitudes and actions that communicate to all of our youth that they are valued and supported.
While these images from this first exhibit represent a statement of the problem, subsequent Ubuntu Arts projects strive to also be part of the solution, to prevent future violence and loss and to increase peace, safety, support, opportunity, and positive development for all youth.