Portraits Honor Souls Shot in Philadelphia
The public health crisis caused by rampant gun violence continues in Philadelphia and in cities all across the country. Hardly a day goes by when we don’t hear about senseless acts of gun violence that leave families and communities shattered.
The Souls Shot Portrait Project connects family members or friends of those who died from a gun with local artists. The artists meet with the victims’ loved ones to learn about the lives they lived through stories, memories and photographs. Through this sharing, the artist creates a portrait that conveys the person’s essence and personality and celebrates their life.
Through November 30, 2022, Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia has a Souls Shot exhibit on display open to the public in the Community Corridor (located between the Tower and Levy building lobbies, 5501 Old York Road, Philadelphia, PA 19141).
The hope of the Souls Shot project organizers is that the experience of seeing the faces of the victims who lost their lives far too soon will bring attention to their lives and inspire people to take action against gun violence.
This is the third Souls Shot exhibit hosted by Einstein Philadelphia and was brought to the medical center thanks to the Trauma Department and team. As the busiest Level 1 Trauma Center in the City of Philadelphia, the doctors, nurses and staff in Einstein’s Emergency Department see firsthand the devastation caused by guns on a regular basis. These traumatic events take a toll on healthcare professionals, and they’re encouraged to utilize the support and wellness services offered through Einstein/Jefferson Health.
The following thoughts and sentiments are shared by people involved with Souls Shot and those on the frontlines of treating victims of gun violence:
“For me, this project is a way I can use my talent, and the talents of all of our artists, to make a powerful statement about the terrible cost of gun violence to our communities, and to our country. We are so honored to have been able to show our exhibitions at Einstein Medical Center several times. We are able to let the loved ones of the souls featured in the portraits, and those facing similar grief, know that their voices are heard. We hope that everyone seeing the portraits will consider how they can best use their talents and strengths to combat this epidemic gun violence.”Laura Madeleine, Executive Director and Curator of Souls Shot
“We are mired in the effects of gun violence every day and it is so easy to become numb to it, to lose a piece of ourselves to it with each victim we treat. In these portraits we have the honor and the rare opportunity to see the victims as the humans they were – full of life and color, movement, grace, and so loved by so many. It restores humanity to the victims, and also to the work we do every day. It is healing for us and our community. It reminds us why we are here, and for whom.”Erica Harris, MD, a trauma surgeon and Director of the Trauma Intervention Program at Einstein Philadelphia
“The portraits lend a brightness in a very dark time. We don’t often get to see the faces of the people killed in the gun violence epidemic in Philadelphia and it’s nice to see the faces, names and stories behind these portraits. There’s a lot of heartbreak, and it’s hard not to be angry, especially with some of the younger patients that we see here.”Alexi Bloom, MD, a trauma surgeon at Einstein Philadelphia
“The Souls Shot Portrait Project is a humbling experience, because you quickly realize that it is so much more than pictures of people. Each piece of art represents a life, one that was cut short way too soon, and family and friends who will hold that loss with them forever. It is an honor to host this Exhibit because of the lives and the stories that this exhibit holds within it; these are stories that need to be told.”Sarah Misuro, MSN, RN, CEN, CCRN, Trauma Education, Prevention and Outreach Coordinator, who played a key role in bringing the Souls Shot exhibit to Einstein
“After an inner longing to create portraits for families of gun violence victims but not knowing where or how to begin, I jumped at the chance to connect with Souls Shot when I picked up a flyer at a local art supply store. I’ve worked with four families over the years and I take the honor very seriously as a life’s work to humanize the victims and make visceral the very real loss to the community that these losses inflict on the world.”Artist Keisha Whatley, who has portraits in the Einstein Souls Shot exhibit
For more information about the Souls Shot Portrait Project, including resources for fighting the gun violence epidemic, visit https://www.soulsshotportraitproject.org.