Human tragedy inspires student’s powerful work
A MASS shooting which shocked the world and touched a student at the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff (UWIC) so deeply she has based her degree show work on the tragic story.
Few people could forget the horrific events of October 2 2006 when a gunman held 10 young schoolgirls hostage in a small Amish village in Pennsylvania, USA, and murdered five of them before turning the gun on himself.
Beth Windows, a 24-year-old student in her final year of the Contemporary Textiles Practice course at UWIC’s School of Art & Design, has produced a powerful selection of work inspired by the shootings.
“I was touched by a documentary that looked at school shootings and human tragedies,” explained Beth who is originally from the Forest of Dean but now lives in Cardiff. “The 2006 shootings in Pennsylvania at an Amish school house particularly disturbed me because of the overwhelming sense of innocence in that particular community.
“I have a background in fashion design, so taking the very distinctive dress and the need for plainness, my work became a burial gown. Five children lived and five died and they are represented by the tags hanging from the gowns.
“White is used for the idea of innocence, while red is associated with youthfulness - no matter what they will always be youthful and they will carry the scar for life.
“The tags include paraphrased quotes from the children; there is one that has the prescription from over the door of the school house that reads ‘visitors bring joy to our school.’ A horrifying thing that people noticed when they visited the school afterwards.”
Following the shootings, the Amish community continued to dominate the headlines for their attitude of forgiveness towards the gunman and his family, as well as stories leaking about how the young children reacted during their hostage ordeal.
Beth said: “Another of the tags says ‘God’s perfect timing’. So it’s a child that understands the Bible to some degree. One of the older ones said “shoot me first and let the little ones go” to save her sister. The Amish people forgave – I don’t quite grasp that.”
Beth’s work will be on display at UWIC’s summer exhibition at the Llandaff and Howard Gardens campuses from Saturday 7 June to Friday 13 June, open from 10am to 8pm daily, 12noon finish on Friday 13.
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