Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

'Faces Not Forgotten' Remembers Young Victims of Gun Violence

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

'Faces Not Forgotten' Remembers Young Victims of Gun Violence

Article excerpt

'Faces Not Forgotten' remembers young victims of gun violence

Visual artist Christine Ilewski has been making portraits of children and young adults killed by gun violence for four years. Mourning a missionary friend murdered in Guatemala, she made a portrait: "I was processing my grief; all I knew as an artist is how to paint," she said. Then she talked to a Chicago mother whose son had been murdered and painted his portrait. That led to meeting more parents and to more portraits. The project grew; she now has 16 artists helping her. "I was getting overwhelmed by the number," she said. "They never seemed to stop."

Ilewski's original goes to the family. A copy goes on a handkerchief, "symbolic of grief," she said. She never contacts the families; if they're interested, they contact the Faces project (

Ilewski is one of three artists presented in the Critical Mass Creative Stimulus Award exhibit "Of Being Numerous," curated by Jessica Baran. That exhibition, including the portraits, opened Monday night at the Regional Arts Commission. Originally scheduled for July, it was put off, and the irony of the timing is not lost on Ilewski.

Michael Brown's death on Aug. 9 became a focus at the opening. Pastor Cori Bush, of the nondenominational Kingdom Embassy International church in St. Louis, has been active in Ferguson, counseling and marching. She spoke, said Ilewski, about love and loss.

"We don't want to get into any politics of it," said Ilewski, who said that several artists have asked to do Brown's portrait. "We just want to tell the stories and keep their faces alive. There are so many of them." (By Sarah Bryan Miller)

Arts & Faith concert adjusts its focus

In 2011, on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, Arts & Faith St. Louis held an interfaith concert at the Sheldon Concert Hall to commemorate that watershed event in the life of the nation.

Originally planned as a stand-alone event, it turned into an annual occasion, with choirs and soloists from many different traditions and backgrounds.

Plans were already set for the fourth edition when the Michael Brown shooting took place, but those plans were quickly adjusted in light of the events of Ferguson. Nothing was subtracted; some meaningful things were added.

"It has remained an opportunity for reflection," said Batya Abramson-Goldstein of the Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis. "It's a range of diversity coming together, sharing this powerful experience, sharing the language of music. You feel it in the audience; you also see it on the stage."

This year, the planned focus was on the 250th anniversary of the founding of St. Louis and on immigrants and their contributions.

"And then Ferguson" happened, she added. "Of course, the concert must respond to Ferguson, and, once again, through music. …

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