Gun violence

‘I Am Art': DC teacher launches art exhibit to raise awareness about gun violence

Students in Northeast DC inspire local art teacher

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With National Gun Violence Awareness month coming to an end, a D.C. teacher is making a statement. 

Blu Murphy, the director of arts education at Perry Street Preparatory Public Charter School in Northeast, uses images of her students in her art to remind people that students must be protected. 

Her mixed media series, “I Am Art,” is about how young people, mainly students of color, are at risk of gun violence.

"Usually Black and brown students are kind of overlooked and unseen, right? So to make them larger than life forces the viewer to have to look at them," said Murphy as she showed her portraits.

Finished portraits have been wrapped up and are ready to be delivered to lawmakers and community stakeholders. 

“Hopefully, if you have this work of art in your home, you think about the student in the portrait and you think about what are you actually doing to say something about gun violence, particularly in our city,” said Murphy. 

One of Murphy’s portraits is based on her 11-year-old student, Mikah Crockett, whose mother, Danyelle Ford is also a teacher at Perry. Mikah’s uncle — Ford's brother — was killed outside their home in 2020 due to gun violence. 

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“We just heard gunshots. They were really loud,” said Ford. “I found him laying there bleeding and saw him take his last breath. It was a lot, just seeing that.” 

Due to their personal experience, Mikah’s portrait was chosen to be used by the D.C. Office of Gun Violence Prevention.

“We do deal with this on a daily basis. You never know when it's going to hit you. PTSD is real. Mental health is real. It just brought us closer together, and we're just able to speak on it. Sometimes hiding it doesn't help, but spreading the word and getting it out there is a coping mechanism,” said Ford. 

Murphy hopes to bring awareness to the community and hopes her students learn to use art is a form of advocacy. 

“So, y'all just watch out, because everybody gonna hear my message,” she said.

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