Art piece shifts focus on gun violence nationwide in the wake of Highland Park shooting

Artist Jacqueline von Edelberg said her art piece “Enough” contains 30,000 strips of fabric to represent the number of children killed since Sandy Hook. A new version of it was created in the wake of a mass shooting in Highland Park.

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Strands of fabric with the names of the victims of the Highland Park shooting sit on a table before being hung up on an offshoot art piece “Enough” in Sunset Woods Park July 9, 2022.

Strands of fabric with the names of the victims of the Highland Park shooting sit on a table before being hung up on an offshoot art piece “Enough” in Sunset Woods Park July 9, 2022.

Zack Miller/Sun-Times

Three weeks ago, Jacqueline von Edelberg was rallying for gun control at the Art Center Highland Park with her art piece “Enough.”

“Enough” consists of 30,000 strips of fabric to represent each child killed since the Sandy Hook massacre with messages of support from people around the country.

Last week, von Edelberg was at Highland Park’s Sunset Woods Park, this time attending memorials and vigils for the victims of the Highland Park July Fourth parade shooting. With her came a new version of the art piece that lets those affected by the shooting leave messages for themselves and others.

The offshoot project started after the town von Edelberg calls home was the site of a mass shooting that killed seven people and wounded at least three dozen others. She said the most recent rallies for gun control often ended with her and others talking about how “that could’ve just as easily been our children.”

Von Edelberg said her children missed the hail of gunfire by “seconds.”

Jacqueline von Edelberg ties fabric with the names of the Highland Park shooting victims to an offshoot of her art piece “Enough” during a rally in Sunset Woods Park.

During a moment of silence, Jacqueline von Edelberg ties fabric with the names of the Highland Park shooting victims to an offshoot of her art piece “Enough” during a rally in Sunset Woods Park on Saturday.

Zack Miller/Sun-Times

Von Edelberg created the new piece after the parade shooting, adding the names of the seven victims during a gathering in Sunset Woods Park on Saturday.

The rally broadened its take on gun violence from a local focus to issues across the country: mass shootings, shootings on the street and suicides.

Anthony McIntyre, the president and founder of the Antmound Foundation, an advocacy group that aims to reduce gun violence through direct community action, said the pain of gun violence is the same regardless of location.

He also said he’s “disturbed” by the way gun violence is treated in different areas.

Anthony McIntyre, founder and president of the Antmound foundation, addresses the crowd in Sunset Woods Park.

Anthony McIntyre, founder and president of the Antmound foundation, addresses the crowd in Sunset Woods Park.

Zack Miller/Sun-Times

“We need to recognize that this isn’t only a problem when it affects you directly,” McIntyre said to the crowd. “If you don’t address the issues that are going on with guns across this country in communities like Waukegan, North Chicago and Zion, you’re going to always have these problems here in Highland Park.”

Rep. Brad Schneider told the crowd that those affected by gun violence are “one community.”

“The grief we feel today, we need to feel each and every day,” Schneider said. “There are shootings in the street, there are shootings in homes with domestic violence. There are suicides. … Enough is enough.”

A message left by a student from Stoneman Douglas High School sits on the art piece “Enough” at the Art Center Highland Park.

A message left by a student from Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where 17 were killed in a mass shooting in 2018, sits on the art piece “Enough” at the Art Center Highland Park.

Zack Miller/Sun-Times

Between 2012 — when the Sandy Hook school shooting occurred — and 2020, 28,229 children were killed by firearms, according to CDC data. No data was available for 2021 and 2022, but over the last decade, about 3,528 children are killed on average every year by firearms.

Von Edelberg said the idea originated from her involvement with Nettelhorst Elementary School in Lake View, where a rainbow-colored “cloth fence” was created in 2009 ahead of the school community’s involvement in the Pride Parade that year.

Since then, she has created similar artworks in support of reproductive rights, voting rights and gun control — the last of which had participation from first lady Jill Biden and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

“If you take enough humble materials and wrap enough context around it, you really could affect tremendous change,” von Edelberg said.

A woman ties an orange ribbon to the art piece “Enough.”

A woman ties an orange ribbon to an offshoot of the art piece “Enough” in Highland Park on Saturday.

Zack Miller/Sun-Times

Von Edelberg’s main exhibit on gun violence now resides outside the Art Center Highland Park, where it was installed June 16 after several trips across the country.

James Lynch, director of the Art Center Highland Park, said people have been stopping by to leave their own messages on the original “Enough” and to read others.

“Arts lead the way” when it comes to healing, Lynch said. “We take our role in the community very seriously in what we can do and what we can bring to help heal.”

Some believe for healing to begin, there must first be change.

Kati Murphy, a Lake Bluff resident who was at Saturday’s event, left a message stating, “Our children deserve to feel safe, it’s time for change and healing.”

“It’s time for us to take a stand and make big changes in the way we look at guns,” she said. “We can’t heal until that happens.”

She said the art is both “beautiful” and a “painful reminder” of the issue.

“I wish we didn’t need it,” Murphy said. “I wish that we didn’t have to keep bringing hundreds and thousands of people together to share in a collective grief, because this shouldn’t be happening. We shouldn’t have to keep going through this.”

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