The Right to Exist, Maria Gerbaulet-Vanasse

My sculpture speaks to the issues of gun violence in chicago and how it affects our communities. Specifically the way lack of gun control gives guns to young people who shoot each other either because backing down is impossible or because of gang conflicts.

So the word exist is standing in the shadow of a crumbling hand in the shape of a gun because the amount of guns on our streets is taking away people’s abilities to live and their right to exist.

I struggled a bit on how to put together the meaning I wanted to create with the images I could come up with, but using the word exist really put it all together for me. The word has a lot of power and meaning and I’m hoping that it is an open enough word that people can interpret it themselves based on their own background and experiences.

The crumbling of the fingers helps to show that not only is our current system unsustainable, it is also costing lives. People are ceasing to exist.

This is important to me because I have several friends who have been deeply and personally affected by gun and gang violence. Sadly, I had a friend who was shot and killed two years ago so the issue is very personal. But regardless this should be a personal issue to every Chicagoan. Gun violence has been a problem in Chicago for years with 2016 having the highest homicide rate in over two decades. In 2016 there were 762 deaths, 3,550 shooting incidents, and 4,331 shooting victims. That is insane. This is an issue we all need to take very seriously because these are actual people dying every day, and choosing not to see it is simply unacceptable.

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