By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Twelve thousand chalk body outlines will cover eight city blocks in Center City later this month as part of a massive community art project. The purpose is to pay homage to the many Americans killed by gun violence each year.
Titled, “American Casualties: A Drawing,” the two-day project will require hundreds of Philadelphians to participate in a day of sketching in chalk along JFK Boulevard.
“People are actually going to lay down on the pavement and be traced with a piece of chalk,” says Peter Quinn, an artist based in Philadelphia.
Quinn says amateur artists — including college students, veterans, church groups, and other citizens — will be tapped to draw 12,000 chalk body outlines that will cover all four lanes of JFK Boulevard between 20th and 30th Street. Each outline will represent one person lost to gun violence.
“We’re paying homage to those who have been killed and hoping for a more prosperous future,” says Quinn.
But the purpose of the project is to evoke community action, by forcing the public to get a real world view of the impact of gun violence.
“We’re taking the statistic of 12,000 and fleshing it out,” says Quinn. “We’re making it real. This drawing will demonstrate what the cumulative number looks like all in one spot. And for people to actually see that and realize that, I think will be stunning.”
Quinn says he originally planned to make statement in multiple cities simultaneously, by having individuals draw the number of gun-related deaths in each of those cities separately. But he decided to combine the projects and Philadelphia was the perfect place.
“When we see it,” he says, “the immensity of it will be incomprehensible, 12,000 human chalk outlines on street, eight blocks long, 50 feet wide. It’s something that none of us could ever perceive. I mean that is twice the number of bodies at Normandy during the invasion.”
The first day of the project will be the public drawing and the second day will be the public display. The event is set to take place May 18th and 19th. For more info, go to https://www.facebook.com/AmericanCasualtiesDrawing