Carrie Mae Weems, a visual artist and photographer published in Aperture magazine #197, is applying her creative background to take on gun violence, starting within her local community of Syracuse, New York.
This initiative, titled “Operation Activate” was launched through the artists’ collective, Social Studies 101, founded by Weems eight years ago. The collaboration between several African-American artists from different American cities strives to “assist in the effort to end violence, to activate space through the use of bold images and graphics and to build public awareness.”
The six-month campaign will include everything from billboards, TV public-service announcements, to comic books and coloring pencils. Weems’ initiative challenges the ongoing gun violence facing the Syracuse community with startling and poignant street signs that read:
“A man does not become a man by killing another man.”
In light of the senseless violence in Arizona, Weems’ efforts seem all the more relevant. We find ourselves striving as a nation to absorb the recent tragedies and deal with the ramifications for the future. There is a desire to turn this into a discussion on political polarization, but as President Obama recently stated, “it is important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.”
Operation Activate, through poignant street signs, is empowering this community to consciously and peacefully “Raise Your Hands, Raise Your Voices.”