A rash of violence this past Labor Day weekend in New York (67 shot, 13 killed in three days) culminated in bloody shootout at Franklin Avenue and Park Place in Crown Heights. Two people, including an innocent woman caught in the crossfire, died.
Crown Heights residents and architects, Lana Zellner and Kristen Svorka, were rattled by that weekend's events. Zellner told The L Magazine, "During our weekly meeting we were finding ourselves mentally distracted by the shootings that had taken place a couple days earlier and no matter what we talked about while brainstorming, the shootings just kept coming back up. There was a lot of community discussion about the shootings at the time...so we just decided to focus our project on that. We wanted to do something that will help the neighborhood get past the controversy and focusing on solutions," says Zellner.
And so, just up Franklin Avenue from where the shooting took place, in the Crow Hill Community Garden, the duo are planning an art installation in hopes of bringing the community together.
Zellner and Svorka seek to create a canopy in the garden using disposable, plastic, zip-tie handcuffs (a la mass Occupy Wall Street arrests) in a project they call "Art Not Arrests."" Why handcuffs? They explain on their Kickstarter page:
...each cuff will be individually sponsored by a participating member of the community, showing that they would like to see more art programs available for the youth as a means of getting kids off the streets and preventing gun violence, not more arrests.
We decided to use the handcuffs as a symbol of both the youth violence and the overbearing police presence, that our neighborhood is continually confronted with. Using the handcuffs as a part of the art installation is not meant to trivialize these sensitive topics -- in fact we hope that they will keep the conversation geared toward these important issues as we come up with creative ways to tackle them.
In addition to the canopy, the program will "help raise awareness and funding for organizations in Brooklyn that are working to stop gun violence through the use of art and education programs for the youth. "
Take a look at the video below to see some stunning renderings of the project and to donate, go here. As of this writing, Art Not Arrests has 57 hours to raise a little over $2,000 in order to get funded.