Curated by Calyann Barnett, the powerful installation, which inhabited the High Line Room, featured a recreation of the student’s classroom on that fateful day. Note cards baring testimonials of each victim by close friends and family as well as the teachers who lost their lives protecting their students rested on every desk. Surrounded by posters of glaring gun violence statistics demanding a call to action, visitors could not help but march straight to the Ring Your Rep phone and demand stricter gun laws from their local representatives. Miami heat basketball player Dwyane Wade donated the sneakers he wore the day after the funeral of one victim, Joaquin Oliver, which carried an inscription to Joaquin after discovering he was the teenager’s most treasured role model.
Artist and activist, Manuel Oliver, the father of Joaquin was on hand to perform a heart-wrenchingly beautiful tribute to his late son with a live painting session on the terrace. The interactive piece featured sequential drawings of his late son culminating in a blank canvas. With “We Demand To Live” emblazoned across the painting and surrounding hammered punctures filled in with 17 sunflowers and the signatures of bystanders, Oliver’s poignant message was loud and clear—it’s time to make a change. “The only way I can give my son a voice is through art. My wife Patricia and I started our own organization called Change The Ref, and we want to empower the younger generation as much as we can. This is my new life.” Pointing to his son’s legacy, the artist noted, “Joaquin has a voice — he is marching every single day. I’m just his instrument. I’m helping him to reach you guys. He’s demanding me to stop these people and make some noise. He was my best friend.”