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  • Writer's pictureKatoya R Palmer

In moving art display, Beloved arranges 1,405 roses to highlight toll of local gun violence

On March 10, 2022, the Beloved Campaign launched “Roses & Collage,” its first art activation. The living exhibit consisted of 1,405 roses which represented the total number of gunshots fired in King County in 2021. The centerpiece featured 88 red roses arranged into a heart, a visual dedication to those who lost their lives to gun violence last year. The stunning, fragrant display stood contrast to the stark reality the flowers represented.

The public was invited to view the roses during the most recent Capitol Hill ArtWalk. Over 100 people experienced the one-night installation, which was conceived by Julie-C and designed by Carolyn Hitt of Forever Safe Spaces, with support from Jac Smith, Josh Nucci, ArtbreakerBT, Joe Grindo, Cat Palpallatoc, Kiya Mac, and Rick Stewart.

The final presentation was enshrined by a poignant show by Soulma Ayers that included three small coffins full of shell casings and collage pieces featuring Huey Newton, Assata Shakur, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Rosa Parks. The series set vital context for the night - an apt reminder of the state violence enacted on Black bodies.

“To understand the point of this art,” said Ayers, “you have to understand the root of this project. We often say that there is beauty in pain, but what if the pain became beauty? If we can recreate an image of destruction and turn it into an image of rebirth and renewal, then it’s possible to make that change in society.”

The following day, Beloved team members brought the installation to the street, on Aurora Avenue North, one block from the mural of Charleena Lyles, a 30-year-old Black mother of four who was shot and killed by Seattle police in 2017. Lyles was pregnant at the time. The roses were left on a walkway that stretches over Aurora, gifts for passersby.

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