It Takes Us: Stories of Gun Violence from Across America is a long-term documentary project and series of traveling, comprehensive exhibits about the impact of gun violence on survivors, family members of victims, and witnesses to these horrific acts.
It began in the middle of 2014 - right after a mass shooting in Isla Vista, CA - when I came upon the then current issue of PEOPLE magazine. The cover story was about some Kardashian wedding but there was a little blurb in the upper right corner about the incident... with a subhead saying, ‘Another school shooting: How could this happen again?’ I was struck by both the naivety and irresponsibility of that language. ‘How could it NOT happen again?’ was my reaction - why should we be surprised when - despite recent gains made by the gun violence prevention movement - there had yet to be a collective shift in our national consciousness?
I realized that action was needed by more than just those personally affected by gun violence and that I could no longer pay lip service to the urgency of reducing the over 36,000 senseless and preventable gun deaths (along with the countless physical and psychological injuries) that occur every year. So I set out to travel the country to hear, photograph, and bear witness to diverse stories of grief, sadness, and lasting trauma.
The project has since grown into a body of work that has allowed the stories of over 100 families to see the light of day. Our goal is to start conversations throughout the country, show how we are all just one or two degrees of separation away from this epidemic, and motivate people into action.