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American Tapestry

Poster Series
Friday, April 20, 2019 marks the 20th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting. I was 15 years old, about to enter high school myself in Westminster, CO— my father and stepmother lived 45 minutes away in Littleton, Colorado. My brother and sister attended Columbine years later, where the shooting still lived on, infamous, throughout its halls.

At the time, and even into my siblings’ tenure there, it was unfathomable that anything like it could happen again. By 2018, the “watershed moment” that became simply known as Columbine was followed by so many more watershed moments, also made infamous by their simple identifiers — San Bernardino, Sandy Hook, Fort Hood, Aurora, Sutherland Springs, Parkland — so as to become clear that none of them were watershed moments at all. Children have born, grown into a promising young adulthood, and murdered by an AR-15-style rifle— 19 years after Columbine.

These posters visualize the inconceivable pattern of mass shootings as a literal pattern, leveraging familiar conventions of graphic design (an urgent, commercial voice, mass production, et al) to suggest a terrible tapestry of commerce and violence that is woven into the fabric of the American experience.

Gun manufacturers are not as morally agnostic as they like to pretend, nor are they as invulnerable as they might seem. To see an AR-15 as a product (deflating it from the sacred rite the NRA clings to with their cold, dying hands) is to imagine a world where market pressure can influence their continued sale and manufacture. The posters detail if the company in question is traded on the New York Stock Exchange, and links to modernsport.us/unload, a resource that encourages divestment from these companies. Divestment from citizens, governments and banks can force accountability from those that profit from this murderous cycle and demonstrate to lawmakers that there is support for reform— despite decades of congressional inaction.


nathan dot young at temple dot edu