Fort Worth Artists Respond to the School Shooting in Uvalde

by Jessica Fuentes June 1, 2022

As a cultural manifestation, art is inherently born out of and in response to societal changes and events. From Goya’s The Disasters of War to Henry Moore’s drawings from inside a London bomb shelter, artists throughout history have coped with and responded to crisis and violence through art. 

A close up photograph of small white memorial ribbons each held together with a small silver pin.

White memorial ribbons created during “Pedacitos de paz.” Photo by Walt Burns.

Around 2007, Bernardo Vallarino, a Fort Worth-based Colombian-born mixed-media sculptor and installation artist, was inspired to undertake a private performance practice in response to the overwhelming and continuous violence in the United States and beyond. Frustrated with the ongoing tragedies and the lack of meaningful change as a result, Pedacitos de paz was a way for the artist to physically represent the seemingly hollow remarks of “thoughts and prayers.” The performance involves the artist making small white awareness ribbons. 

An installation photograph showing an office chair sitting on a gray platform in the middle of a gallery. In front of the chair is a small desk with a lighted magnifying glass. Overflowing from the desk and onto the platform and ground are innumerable small white ribbons.

Bernardo Vallarino, “Pedacitos de paz,” 2020, at the Nasher Sculpture Center.

Since its first iteration, Mr. Vallarino has repeated the performance for numerous mass shootings in the U.S. and around the world. In 2020, the artist was invited to create the first installation of Nasher Public, a public art initiative by the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas that supports North Texas artists. At the time, Christopher Blay spoke with Mr. Vallarino for Glasstire about the performance piece.

On Sunday, May 30, 2022, Mr. Vallarino held his first group performance of this work. In response to the recent shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, the artist invited 21 other artists and creatives to join him in making ribbons. The intention was to have a total of 22 participants, honoring the lives lost at the school shooting: both of the innocent victims, and of the perpetrator of the violence.

Mr. Vallarino told Glasstire, “The reason why I chose 22 is because I wanted to consider every person that died that day, including the shooter. I still believe they were a human life that was tragically lost. For whatever reason he did it, he was still a person.”

A photograph by Walt Burns depicting a group of people sitting at a long rectangular table. each person is making small white ribbons as part of a performance art work directed by Bernardo Vallarino.

“Pedacitos de paz” participants making memorial ribbons. Photo by Walt Burns.

The invited participants included: Stormie Parker, Jan Ayers Friedman, Ruth Meharg, Sunflowerman, Marshall Harris, Carol Ivey, Magda Vallarino, Liz Nichole, Carrie Adamson-Riefler, Mouty Shackelford, Gwen Hannan Meharg, Maggie Adler, Jesse Sierra-Hernandez, Mike Sanders, KQueen Nicole, Antonio Lechuga, Sasha Bass, and Jin-Ya Huang. Over the two-hour performance, they created over 7,000 white ribbons. Though somber, the experience gave local artists an outlet to process the Uvalde shooting, and an opportunity to support each other through communal work.

To learn more about Mr. Vallarino’s ongoing project, Pedacitos de paz, visit the artist’s website.

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