KOKOMO, Ind. — It’s a striking image with a simple message – “Enough.”
An Indiana University Kokomo adjunct professor who also teaches art at Peru Highs School says he was inspired to use his art as a way to start a conversation about school shootings. He didn’t know it would take a local school shooting to bring this work of art to life.
The piece includes a school desk surrounded by 4,000 shell casings and crime scene tape with “Enough” carved out clearly. Surrounding the statement and all over this desk is the names of every school affected by a shooting since the Columbine massacre in 1999. The last name added was Noblesville West Middle School.
“They’re on lock down and you know it was chaotic but she’s gotta be there for her 29 kids but she just got a phone call from daughter Sammie and Sammie is on the phone yelling down the hallway her classroom is getting shot up,” said artist Mike Applegate.
Applegate recalls the day he called to check on a fellow teacher at Noblesville West when he heard there was a shooting. Already in shock, the response from his students at Peru High School was even more alarming.
“Like guys this is a shooting. They’re shooting kids. They were like oh. And that’s when I was like I need to do something to stop the complacency of people saying oh it’s just another school shooting,” said Applegate.
So, he started his research to find all the school shootings since 1999, a journey that caused him to feel his work.
“The first hour it was hard because you write them and you remember Columbine, you remember Sandy Hook you remember all the big names then you start writing some of those small names like oh my goodness this was in Kansas,” said Applegate.
A book next to the piece lists each shooting by state and the number of deaths at each one. Through this he says his main goal was for onlookers to feel a little heartache and awareness and for his students to know through art you can make an impact.
“A lot of them are getting what the meaning is behind it and they’re understanding that enough is enough,” said Applegate.
The installation piece is on display in the IU Kokomo art gallery through next September 7. After that it will be moved to Havens Auditorium during a presentation from a mother whose son was murdered at Sandy hook.