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Putting Faces to the Numbers: Poignant photo exhibit reveals lasting impact of gun violence

‘One Bullet Affects so Many Lives in an Irreparable Way.’

April 7, 2017 By Scott Enman Brooklyn Daily Eagle
“Natasha's son [and Underwood’s brother], Akeal, 14, was shot and killed on his way home from a party in Bushwick. Despite being surrounded by bars, stores and bodegas that were all open at the time of the shooting, no one has stepped forward to identify the shooter.” Photos: Joe Quint, www.ittakes.us
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On an average day, 91 Americans are killed by guns. Of those 91, seven are children.

Every year, guns take the lives of 33,000 Americans.

Since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, there have been more than 200 school shootings.

America’s gun murder rate is more than 25 times the average of other developed countries.

These are the startling statistics that plague this nation.  

While the aforementioned figures are significant, they are just numbers. To better understand the pain and suffering of those affected by gun violence, one must speak with the victims.

Which is where Joe Quint steps in.

Documentary photographer and DUMBO resident Quint travels the country taking photos of victims of gun violence to raise awareness on the issue of gun violence prevention.

It’s a taxing job, but one that is invaluable and noble.

Through his photographs, Quint tells the compelling, diverse story of the impact of gun violence on injured survivors, family members of victims and witnesses who — while not physically injured — suffer many of the same emotional and psychological scars as those who were actually shot.

“Like a lot of people, a few years ago, I reached my limit,” Quint told the Brooklyn Eagle. “I just said I couldn’t not be a part of this conversation. It’s just too big a problem, it’s too important to wait for someone else to take the lead.”

Quint’s traveling pop-up exhibit, dubbed “It Takes Us,” provides a hidden and honest look at these real stories. He provides a voice for those who often cannot be heard.

And on Thursday, Quint showcased his moving exhibit at the WeWork offices in DUMBO.

“These stories are real, they’re diverse and they’re powerful,” Quint said. “They don’t conform to the media narrative of what gun violence looks like as solely an urban issue or solely a mass shooting issue. It’s everyday people from all walks of life who are impacted in one way or another.

Quint currently has an exhibit on display at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and he has presented his work at Brooklyn Bridge Park, Penn State University, upstate New York and San Francisco. He has upcoming events in Iowa, Connecticut and Washington, D.C.

“If you’re fortunate enough to survive, just the long-term impact and trauma is profound,” said Quint. “The ripple effect of how many lives it touches, a family, a community, a place of work, it just touches so many people and one bullet affects so many lives in an irreparable way.”

He added, “A common theme in these photos is loss and trauma. Definitely just how completely life changing it is and how you think you’re going down one path in life and this happens to you or your family and you’re never the same again.”

One such family is Natasha Christopher and her son Christopher Underwood, 10, who joined Quint on Thursday.

Natasha’s son and Underwood’s brother, Akeal, was fatally shot in Bushwick in 2012 at the age of 14.

“My childhood was taken from me the minute my brother died,” Underwood bravely told the audience. “Nothing in my life will ever be the same again.”

Underwood was 5 years old when his brother passed away.

“Lots of other people have been hurt from gun violence and there are too much guns on the streets, so I’m trying to help stop and get the guns off the streets,” Underwood told the Eagle.  

Underwood quoted the great Martin Luther King Jr. in his speech: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Quint, Natasha and Underwood were also joined by local gun violence prevention advocates with the New York chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

Sadness, grief and trauma are all common feelings that Quint, his subjects and his viewers feel, but the artist hopes to inspire others to channel those emotions into positive action.

“It’s important to show these stories because it sends a message that we can’t think this is someone else’s problem, that we can afford the luxury of not getting involved because our kids go to a good school or we live in a good neighborhood,” he said.

“It’s a national problem no matter who you are.”

To see more of Quint’s photographs and to get involved, go to ittakes.us/faces1.

 

 


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