A wall covered in dolls.
Each one meant to represent a life lost in Chicago to gun violence.
So far, 1,164 dolls constitute the DOLLS4PEACE exhibit that opened Sunday at the Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell Ave.
“We’re still making dolls to catch up,” said Chicago Public School teacher Rochele Royster, who came up with the idea after losing a Drake Elementary student to gun violence two years ago.
“It’s a living memorial,” said Royster, who enlisted the help of students from 55 CPS schools and five local universities to create the dolls.
“Each is made of found materials like burlap and cloth and wrapped with yarn, which is therapeutic and meditative,” said Royster, a special ed teacher who also runs an art therapy program.
“The goal is to create a safe space and space for healing for those affected by gun violence,” she said.
Another goal is to bring awareness to the need for mental health services in the communities most affected by gun violence, she said.
The Survivors Alliance for Healing & Justice partnered with Royster to help make the traveling exhibit a reality.
The exhibit will remain in Hyde Park until June 25, at which point it will travel to several locales in neighborhoods hardest hit by gun violence, such as Englewood and Austin.
“Wherever it goes, that will be a space for youth to come to perform, sing, reflect, talk, heal and come up with solutions to violence,” Royster said.