Parkland parents create ‘Shamecards’ to spur gun reform

Once you consider Orlando, Florida, you might consider solar, lakes, orange timber, and Mickey Mouse. Chances are you’ll affiliate Charleston, South Carolina, with a fairly port, palmettos, cobblestone streets, and white-sand seashores.

That’s how these cities are mirrored on the generally discovered “Greetings From” postcards, which symbolize the places and landmarks that trip locations attempt to be recognized for. These iconic postcards have been standard since they have been first produced within the U.S. by German immigrant and writer Curt Teich in 1931, they usually proceed to be recognized for his or her big-block textual content, inside which colourful drawings depict distinctive monuments and websites of curiosity.


However as an alternative of their landmarks, increasingly more American cities have gotten recognized for one thing removed from attractive for vacationers: mass shootings.

That arduous fact has impressed a warped reimagining of the long-lasting postcards. A twisted parody, Shamecards is a brand new artwork activism challenge led by Manuel and Patricia Oliver, the parents of Joaquin Oliver, who was one of many 17 individuals who died within the capturing at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas Excessive Faculty in Parkland, Florida. “The marketing campaign is masking, in a really cool, graphic approach—in an Americana, classic type—places the place mass shootings have turn out to be the focus,” Manuel says.



Throughout the massive letters that spell out metropolis names, these playing cards comprise horrific and provocative imagery impressed by the now-infamous tales of mass shootings. Orlando’s incorporates pictures of a roaming shooter contained in the Pulse Nightclub, with bloodstained partitions and attendees cowering in corners. Charleston’s depicts the members of the Bible examine within the Episcopal Church initially welcoming Dylann Roof; the scene turns to gunshots, seen screams, and our bodies on the ground.

The textual content on the again additionally parodies the alluring copy historically discovered on such postcards. “Southern Florida is understood for sand, surf, and the deadliest faculty capturing in United States historical past,” reads Parkland’s shamecard. Newtown’s is especially jarring: “Connecticut is understood for its peaceable bed room communities, however on December 14, 2012, a 20-year-old man entered [Sandy Hook] elementary faculty and began capturing.” Contained in the letters that spell Newtown, the photographs are flushed fully with a blood-red hue. Youngsters’s lifeless arms dangle out of the letters.

There are 52 playing cards that painting shootings from Columbine to El Paso, and lesser-known incidents like in Roseburg, Oregon; Red Lake, Minnesota; and Honolulu, Hawaii. The message is the prevalence of gun violence. “It applies to virtually each single metropolis in America,” Manuel says.


Promoting company MullenLowe dealt with the evocative textual content, whereas 30 artists from 25 international locations lent their visions to the inventive designs. It wasn’t a selected selection to recruit artists primarily exterior the U.S., the couple says, however the uniquely American disgrace of gun violence is all of the extra astounding to outsiders. “They don’t get it,” Manuel says. “They don’t see how this may very well be a difficulty in a first-world nation.”

The Shamecards challenge was developed to increase consciousness of gun violence and name individuals to motion on gun reform. Individuals can digitally ship the postcards to congressional representatives in any state. Already, about 600 playing cards have been despatched, even earlier than the official launch day—Valentine’s Day, which marks the three-year anniversary of Parkland. A twelve-by-eight-foot mural of the Parkland Shamecard shall be on show in that neighborhood. Chosen cities may even have pop-up Shamecard stalls, the place passers-by can choose up arduous copies and flood congressional inboxes.


Since Parkland, the speed of gun deaths has continued to enhance (and it even increased in 2020, despite pandemic lockdowns), but nothing has been performed to repair lax gun legal guidelines on a federal degree. The Olivers created a nonprofit, Change the Ref, to assist finish this inaction on gun reform via artwork activism. “I’m glad that we discovered this as the best way to carry on shifting on with our lives,” Manuel says. The group has curated artwork exhibitions, commissioned murals, and even organized a live-show tour devoted to their son, referred to as Guac: My Son, My Hero. “The inspiration for every little thing that we do is our son, Joaquin,” Manuel says, “as well as to any sufferer of gun violence from any nook within the nation.”

Within the emotional aftermath of every mass capturing, a now-familiar debate invariably arises over minimizing dialogue concerning the shooter, in order not to create a cult determine for copycats. Lots of the Shamecards function the killer fairly prominently. Some additionally use a cartoonish, action-comic type that might seem to be glamorizing violence. However Manuel argues that the shooters must be depicted, as a result of they’re the central a part of the dreadful horror of the scenes. Erasing the killer may permit individuals to overlook the heinous acts they dedicated. “I don’t really feel offended by inserting the criminals’ faces on the Shamecards,” he says. “I’m offended that my son was shot 4 instances and murdered for no cause.”


Heightening the shock worth is solely one other approach to strive to get individuals to perceive the gravity of the problem. “I’ve tried a number of methods to affect American society and to warn them about gun violence,” Manuel says. “Perhaps this time, society will get the purpose.” They hope the challenge will assist preserve gun violence on individuals’s minds, because it constantly slips from nationwide consideration after every capturing. They do anticipate the brand new Democratic administration, which has promised motion on gun reform, to step up—they usually suppose lawmakers may need further trigger to empathize with the victims of college shootings after many fearfully hid from doubtlessly armed rioters within the Capitol on January 6.

Nonetheless, governmental inaction has been the established order on this problem for many years, Patricia says. That’s what the Shamecards are for: “We’re right here to be the reminders.”