Since 2013, there have been 291 school shootings in America.1 There is a growing club of survivors that no one wants to join. From here to there, our stories unite us. This memorial seeks to let the shape of the public memory around this type of tragedy be formed from the texture of the individual narratives of those personally involved.
As a student on campus at the NIU shooting in 2008, I have my story, as do others. Yet, our stories are not usually aggregated, shared, or combined. Through sharing our memories, we can process them individually. Collaborative storytelling allows us to put these stories together, forming an overall shape, without losing the texture of each individual narrative.
This collective creates not only a public record, but a pulpit—shining light on greater issues of gun violence and control through the lens of human experience. The voice of the memorial is not a curatorial voice nor a historian’s, but rather it resounds directly from the people who experienced history that day.
1 School Shooting data from everytown.com
This project was started in 2012 by NIU alumn, Lauren Meranda, for her MDes thesis on Design after Loss.
Collective negative events often invoke within an individual a natural desire to memorialize. Whether in the stone memorials at the National Mall, the posters designed for the Tsunami in Japan, or the roadside memorials filled with teddybears and hand-made cards, their is a presence of creation and creative expression following tragedies. Bringing creativity to the grieving grieving process can be a powerful tool, but one that should be considered respectfully. What is the role of design after loss? Beginning with a brief understanding of memory and remembering, the motives of memorial can be split into two categories–the psychology of loss and the creation of public memory.
The question lies in who decides what story gets told. In memorials stemming from collective tragedy, design should seek to facilitate the grieving process and the public memory-making that comes from those who the tragedy affects. A single story should not be the only one we tell.