The artwork shifts the focus to gun violence nationwide in the wake of the Highland Park shooting

Three weeks ago, Jacqueline von Edelberg was rallying for gun control at the Highland Art Center Park with her artwork “Enough.”

“Enough” consists of 30,000 strips of cloth to represent every child killed since the Sandy Hook massacre with messages of support from people across the country.

Last week, von Edelberg was in Highland Park’s Sunset Woods Park, this time attending memorials and vigils for the victims of the Highland Park July 4th parade shooting. With it came a new version of the artwork that allows those affected by the shooting to leave messages for themselves and others.

The project was launched after the city von Edelberg calls home was the site of a mass shooting that killed seven people and injured at least three dozen others. She said more recent gun control rallies often ended with her and others talking about how “these could have just as easily been our kids.”

Von Edelberg said her children missed the gunfire by “seconds”.

During a moment of silence, Jacqueline von Edelberg ties fabric with the names of Highland Park shooting victims to a branch of her “Enough” artwork during a rally in Sunset Woods Park on Saturday.

Von Edelberg created the new piece after the parade shooting, adding the names of the seven victims during a gathering at Sunset Woods Park on Saturday.

The rally broadened its view of gun violence from a local focus to issues across the country: mass shootings, street shootings and suicides.

Anthony McIntyre, the president and founder of the Antmound Foundation, an advocacy group that aims to reduce gun violence through direct community action, said the pain of gun violence is the same regardless of location.

He also said he is “disturbed” by the way gun violence is being handled in different areas.

Anthony McIntyre, founder and president of the Antmound Foundation, addresses the crowd at Sunset Woods Park.

Anthony McIntyre, founder and president of the Antmound Foundation, addresses the crowd at Sunset Woods Park.

“We have to understand that this is not just a problem when it affects you directly,” McIntyre told the crowd. “If you don’t address the issues that are happening with guns across this country in communities like Waukegan, North Chicago and Zion, you’re always going to have these problems here in Highland Park.”

Rep. Brad Schneider told the crowd that those affected by gun violence are “a community.”

“The pain we feel today, we should feel every day,” said Schneider. “There are shootings in the streets, there are shootings in houses with domestic violence. There are suicides. … Enough is enough.”

A message left by a student from Stoneman Douglas High School rests on the artwork

A message left by a student from Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where 17 were killed in a mass shooting in 2018, rests on the “Enough” artwork at the Highland Art Center Park.

Between 2012 — when the Sandy Hook school shooting happened — and 2020, 28,229 children were killed by firearms, according to CDC data. Data were not available for 2021 and 2022, but over the past decade, an average of 3,528 children have been killed by firearms each year.

Von Edelberg said the idea originated from her involvement with Nettelhorst Elementary School in Lake View, where a rainbow-colored “fabric fence” was created in 2009 prior to the school’s community involvement in that year’s Pride Parade.

Since then, she has created similar artworks in support of reproductive rights, voting rights and gun control – the latest of which featured participation from First Lady Jill Biden and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

“If you take enough modest material and wrap enough context around it, you can really effect tremendous change,” von Edelberg said.

A woman ties an orange ribbon to the artwork

A woman ties an orange ribbon to a branch of the “Enough” artwork in Highland Park on Saturday.

Von Edelberg’s major exhibit on gun violence is now located outside the Art Center’s Highland Park, where it was installed on June 16 after several trips across the country.

James Lynch, director of the Highland Park Art Center, said people have gone to leave their messages on the original “Enough” and read others.

“The arts lead the way” when it comes to healing, Lynch said. “We take our role in the community very seriously in what we can do and what we can bring to help with healing.”

Some believe that for healing to begin, there must first be change.

Kati Murphy, a Lake Bluff resident who was at Saturday’s event, left a message saying, “Our kids deserve to feel safe, it’s time for change and healing.”

“It’s time for us to take a stand and make big changes in the way we look at guns,” she said. “We can’t heal until that happens.”

She said the art is both “beautiful” and a “painful reminder” of the issue.

“I wish we didn’t need it,” Murphy said. “I wish we don’t continue to bring together hundreds and thousands of people to share a collective grief, because that shouldn’t happen. We don’t have to keep going through this.”

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