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Students in PhotoFutures program display photo on gun culture in Snite

| Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Tasked with contributing a photograph about gun violence in America to the Snite Museum of Art, four students in the PhotoFutures program unveiled their choices at the museum Wednesday evening.

The students selected a photograph from photographer Carlos Javier Ortiz’s “We All We Got” project. The image focuses on a pool of blood while a little boy’s blurred face stares into the camera.

Senior Christine Anspach said the decision was difficult, since the group needed to hone in on the message they wanted to deliver.

“It ultimately came down to, ‘What do we want to say about gun culture?’” Anspach said. “We can’t say everything. We wanted to pick a photograph that would raise questions for students in the future. So we thought, how, as millennials, are we perceiving gun culture in this country, and what’s important to us?”

Senior Isabel Cabezas said Ortiz’s photograph was eventually picked because it gave the best “look at the humanity and the results and repercussions of gun culture in America.”

“You see the humanity, because there is a little boy, whose face is blurred out, but you can’t ignore him,” Cabezas said. “As humans, we are drawn to our own likeness.”

The photograph was also chosen, Cabezas said, because it served as a call to action.

“You’re being called to focus on this gruesome scene, but the innocence of this little boy, he’s almost looking up to you and wondering ‘What are you going to do about this? Will this be my future? What will happen next?’” Cabezas said.

Cabezas said the striking nature of Ortiz’s photograph was another reason for its selection.

“Your eye goes directly to the really dark spot on the cement, which is a bloodstain,” she said. “There was a 15-year-old boy who was shot and burned after being beaten to death, essentially. The body is not in this image; all we see is the violent bloodstain.”

As a part of the PhotoFutures program, Ortiz was actually brought to campus and the students had a chance to speak with him. Anspach said they learned about Ortiz’s artistic process.

“For his photographs, he went to these communities and actually made friends so that he got to know the people,” she said. “He has a very photojournalistic approach to his photographs.”

Junior Regina Ekaputri said that as a part of the program, the students were asked to probe their own views on gun culture through creative assignments.

“We had to pick a gun target, like the ones you would see at a shooting range,” Ekaputri said. “We had to live with one for a week. Some of us put it in our rooms, some put it in the front seat of their car, to get us thinking about gun culture and how it affects our lives.”

Ekaputri said this was all a part of the process of discerning the best photograph for the Snite.

“We had to develop our own set of categories for how to pick one photograph that will match the theme and complement the mission of the University,” she said.

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