Artists Turned Parkland Survivors' Rallying Cries Into Protest Signs
Amplifier asked five women and non-binary artists to create posters to be used at March For Our Lives. Download them here.
Image by Koy Suntichotinun. All images courtesy of Amplifier.
Since 17 students were killed in a shooting at Florida's Stoneman Douglas high school on February 14, teenage survivors of the tragedy have begun speaking out about the dire need for gun reform in the United States, igniting a nationwide campaign among both students and adults to finally end gun violence. And on March 24, they've organized March For Our Lives, a massive march in Washington DC—with accompanying marches all over the world—to bring attention to the issue.
To help visualize the cause, Amplifier—an "art machine for social change" that commissions and distributes free protest imagery—gathered phrases used by the Stoneman Douglas student activists and asked five women and non-binary artists of varying backgrounds to turn them into posters. Shepard Fairey, the artist behind the Obama "Hope" poster and much of the imagery used at the Women's March, contributed a handful as well with the help of his team at Studio Number One.
Through Adobe Project 1324, Amplifier also put out an open call asking for poster submissions from artists between the ages of 13 and 24. Amplifer will print 40,000 posters—including these commissions and three selected open call submissions—and pass them out at marches in six cities on March 24. (Check their Instagram for updates on pickup locations.) Marchers are also encouraged to download and print the posters themselves.
Below, you can view and download the powerful posters, accompanied by statements from the artists and their youth collaborators, sharing why gun control is a personal and urgent issue. Then go out and march.
Kate Deciccio in collaboration with Dejanae Gilliam
San Franciscan Dejanae Gilliam was 19 when she was shot in a "random act of gun violence." The resulting injuries left her unable to walk. For this poster, she teamed up with her former high school teacher, Bay Area artist Kate Deciccio to tell her story. "I want people to look into my story and set an example for the people who are out there killing others," said Gilliam. "I want to prevent someone from thinking that guns are fun and games. Families are destroyed, my physical goals are impossible now, and I did nothing for this to happen to me.
"We should have had a voice a long time ago but a lot of people in my position don't live to speak out."
Bay Area artist Micah Bazant chose to focus their poster on leaders in the Black community. "Black communities have been leading the fight against gun violence for years, and generations, but never received the kind of support or coin that was immediately given to Parkland students. Black youth are killed by guns ten times more often than white youth, but they are not seen as innocent victims in the way the Parkland students have been. It’s not the Parkland students' fault, it’s because of white supremacy. It’s been beautiful to see some of the Florida youth recognizing their privilege, and to see Black students organizing walkouts.
"I wanted to honor Black youth who have been fighting gun violence, not just from school shootings, but from the police and white supremacists. If we give guns to teachers, Black students are going to be hurt and criminalized the most. As a white artist, it’s my responsibility to speak out against racism and work in solidarity with racial justice organizations."
Laci Jordan in collaboration with Get Lit student poets
To create this poster, LA artist Laci Jordan teamed up with the young poet activists of Get Lit. Together, they honed in on a message: "That people need to vote, it’s not optional its mandatory," as Jordan put it.
"Gun reform is very important to me. A year ago, my cousin was a victim of random gun violence. It happened on his first day of his senior year, and my birthday," wrote 17-year-old Get Lit poet Olympia Miccio. "Last week, during the nation-wide walkout, my classmates read out loud the names of the students that died in the Stoneman Douglas shooting. I felt like I could hear his name the whole time. February 14th, I felt like I could hear his name echoing through me—just another victim. Just another victim. Not one more should die the same way."
When asked why gun reform matters to him, 17-year-old Get Lit poet Cyrus Roberts wrote: "I wish I had an incredibly sophisticated answer but I believe, like the majority of citizens marching, human life is valuable. And to allow these machines that can so easily snuff out human life flood the country with hardly any hindrance is ludicrous. I’m tired of hashtags."
Los Angeles artist Nisha Sethi decided to render a phrase used by Stoneman Douglas high schoolers in the style of a 1960s civil rights poster, bridging the lineage between the two movements. As an Asian American artist, she finds it important to assert solidarity with others' struggles and dismantle the "model minority" myth, she said.
"Young people have a long history of leading social movements and they need our support now more than ever," wrote Sethi. "I've personally witnessed gun violence and lost friends to senseless shootings. When I was a youth counselor, I was put in a position where I had to attend the funeral of a 15-year-old student that lost his life to gun violence. I never imagined I would ever have to see a child in a casket and that was enough for me to realize that this country is in dire need of gun control."
Seattle artist Raychelle "Ray" Duazo chose to represent the Stoneman Douglas students' message with iconography partially inspired by her queer, femme, Filipina identity. "A lot of adults really underestimate youth in a myriad of ways... It's frustrating when you're a passionate and understanding person capable of so much, and people don't recognize that just because you're of a certain age. The youth of today will be the voices of now and of the future, and they deserve to have their power represented and felt. I know including a phrase Florida students suggested is just a small way to show support, but I'm honored and happy to have done so."
Icy and Sot
Although not one of the official commissions for March for Our Lives, Iran-born and New York-based brothers Icy and Sot released this image through Amplifier back in October. Its continued relevance underlines that gun violence has been an issue long before the shooting in Florida. The artistic duo wrote: "Print these high resolution images and cover the country with them. They can be printed the size of bus ads or subway ads, they can cover your front door or fill your front window, or be used as your social media profile image. politicians have been saying that this is no time to talk about gun control, but this is EXACTLY the time to talk about gun control. Breaking the NRA’s chokehold on Congress will require massive grassroots pressure on our elected officials. Tell congress that 'thoughts and prayers' are not enough. we need real gun control. we don’t need assault weapons and large capacity magazines for civilian use.