The father of a Parkland shooting victim created a gut-wrenching sculpture of a child hiding under a desk
Last February, Manuel Oliver’s 17-year-old son Joaquin was murdered by a gunman who stormed into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Now, Oliver is fighting back against gun violence by using his skills as an artist to send a powerful public message. His series of sculptures “The Last Lockdown” show a child cowering under a desk and is a completely heartbreaking visualization of the state of our country.
The sculptures were made from 3D printing (a nod to the 3D gun debate) and Oliver used real school desks, which are covered with etchings of gun violence statistics. Student activists will place ten of the art pieces at different voter registration drives throughout the country, focusing on areas where elected officials have ignored the onslaught of school shootings. They’re hoping that the sculptures will reinforce the importance of voting in this upcoming election.
“I know my son – he was a cool dude – and I know he would think this statue is a really powerful way to get our message across,” Oliver told The Chicago Tribune. “That’s what art does, it stops people, makes them think. It connects with people in a more powerful way than trying to talk them into it.”
Sean Leonard, the project’s co-creator, noted that the statue is supposed to make you feel uncomfortable and sad and awful. That’s the whole point.
“We have been calling them chilling, pop-up art installations,” he said. “We keep going back to the fact that statues are typically celebratory or honoring someone, but we are taking that idea and flipping it. We wanted the realism. You should feel unsettled when viewing these.”
Meanwhile, students across the country have volunteered to organize of these voter registration events and are continuing to raise their voices against gun violence, which is the one glimmer of goodness in all this tragedy. Katie Eder, a recent high school graduate and gun control advocate, noted that the string of recent schools shootings has “woken young people politically and civically like never before.”
“As a generation, we are going to continue to march, to walk out, and to raise our voices until kids are safe in their homes, communities, and schools,” she said. “The Last Lockdown is a great way to show this country that young people will continue working and fighting until visible change is made.”
Oliver plans to march right alongside them, and will continue to fight for a safer country. “It’s too late for us to save Joaquin from gun violence,” he said. “But through art my family and I are making sure that we protect the rest of the kids out there.”