Art exhibit opens conversations about gun violence

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An eye-opening art exhibit on gun violence is about to open at the Central Library downtown.

Artist James Pate and exhibit organizers expect the art to spark some serious conversations because of what it shows.

"It just makes you think a little bit and sparks your thought process," said Chaz Holder.

Holder is one of a group of Crispus Attucks High School students who got a first look at the provocative exhibit. The students' visit was also training for grown-ups who will serve as exhibit tour guides.

"The hope is to engage the youth in the community in acknowledging the harsh reality of gun violence," said one of the adult guides.

The exhibit, called "Kin Killing Kin," depicts deadly gun violence involving young black males, in some cases, dressed up like the Ku Klux Klan.

For teenagers, the art is supposed to explain who's really responsible for the murder rate among black males.

"It doesn't really make sense, because what I thought it was, was whites killing blacks," Holder said.

"To see that now we are doing more than they are, it's kind of a wake-up call," said student Kayla Hawthorne.

Exhibit organizers asked Eyewitness News to only show portions of the art, because they want you to see it in person.

The exhibit is much more than art, it includes real toe tags from the coroner's office. Visitors can write the names of murdered loved ones and hang it on a gate. Among those already displayed is 16-year-old Sayyid Abdul-Haqq shot and killed outside his apartment in February.

Below the gate on the floor are hundreds of scattered bullet casings to get people thinking.

"It makes me wonder, is that how many bullets we use? More? Less?" Holder said.

After seeing the exhibit firsthand, the students hope the art will help stop kin from killing kin.

"Just stop the violence, I guess. As a personal message, just stop the violence," Holder said.

The art exhibit, which travels around the country, is free to the public. It opens at the Central Library August 12 and runs through September 28.