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‘Faces Not Forgotten’ exhibit honored young victims of gun violence

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Remembering children who lost their lives to gun violence was the mission of the art exhibit “Faces Not Forgotten” on IUPUI’s campus.

“We cannot forget these children that have died from gun violence, whether it is gun violence from a homicide, unintentional shooting in the home, or a suicide,” said Cathy Weinmann, Indianapolis lead for Mom’s Demand Action.

The monthlong, traveling exhibit during September featured portraits of people 21 and younger who died after either being shot by someone else or committing suicide. Multiple states including Indiana are featured in the exhibit. All of the children in the Indiana series are from the same city crippled by gun violence; Indianapolis is on track to break yet another homicide record in 2021.

“You become immune to it. It is just another morning report like the traffic report,” Weinmann said.

Christine Ilewski, founder and executive director of the organization Faces Not Forgotten, is also a member of Mom’s Demand Action. “We know that the statistics are that we are losing eight children in that age group every single day to gun violence” in the nation, she said.

On the center wall in the gallery at Indiana University Purdue University-Indianapolis sat eight portraits of faces from Indianapolis.

The entire “Faces Not Forgotten” exhibit hopes to continue the legacy of the people behind the portraits. “It gives faces to the names. It makes real people out of numbers. We have to get past the headcount and we have to look at the individuals, the people, the children, and all of the people they leave behind whose lives are devastated forever,” Weinmann said.

Jackie Jackson, a pastor with Everytown For Gun Safety, knows well the impact gun violence can have on a person. “I was shot at 10 years old by a trusted neighbor. My oldest son was shot 37 years later in the back with a shotgun and he lived,” he said.

Jackson wants to prevent families from going through what his has. “I have seen what it does to families. Right there when it happens and later on down the road.”

Organizers behind the exhibit hope that visitors who see the faces will be reminded of the innocent lives taken simply for being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

“These lives, each one is a life, a single individual, and you hear the numbers and you can’t quite put your head around numbers, so as an artist my job is to tell that story,” Ilewski said.

The group Faces Not Forgotten has done more than 300 portraits honoring victims throughout the country. Thursday was the last day for the exhibit at IUPUI; however, anyone can always submit a photo of a victim on the Faces Not Forgotten website to be commissioned. It is at no cost to the family, although the organization runs solely on donations.

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