An artist made bulletproof vests for children as a comment on gun violence in U.S. schools.
The exhibit also features “safety defense” lunch boxes filled with fake guns, Tasers, and brass knuckles. The artist, WhIsBe, short for What is Beauty, said one parent who walked in tried to buy a bulletproof vest for their child. He hopes to make viewers wonder, “how long before life imitates art?”
“The whole concept behind the installation was wanting to recreate what would be something very similar to a store that you could walk into, just in general, on a day-to-day,” he said. “So I created the outside vinyl banners that are kind of like, you know, Kids Bulletproof Vest: $49.99, Matching Safety Defense Lunchboxes.”
School shootings have been steadily on the rise in the U.S. In 2018, there were nearly 100 shooting incidents in K-12 schools compared to 45 incidents in 2016.
“It wasn’t too long ago that we were doing fire drills in school when I was growing up and now they’re doing shooting drills, I forgot the technical term, they’re doing, like, live shooter drills instead,” WhIsBe said. “It’s like, forget the fires. Kids are not focusing on what to do if somebody comes in on an attack.”