INSTALLATION & PERFORMANCE
America’s Teddy Bear is an art installation consisting of a specific number of orange suction foam bullets attached to a window creating the shape of a human-sized teddy bear. The number of bullets corresponds to the number of children and adults that have been injured or killed in *school shootings since the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre in 2012.
The installation is created with a poignant performance where bullets are fired into the teddy bear’s silhouette using a military-style modeled nerf gun. The “shooting” is accompanied and amplified by a school’s lockdown audio playing in the background. This automated announcement was recorded by fifteen-year-old Lillian Duarte while hiding in her classroom from an active shooter.
For the second segment of the performance, the bullets bearing the victims’ names, are hand placed into the Teddy. At this moment, the lockdown audio is replaced by smooth live music as a show of respect to the victims.
America’s Teddy Bear was conceived in response to the school shooting that took place at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida on February 14th, 2018. It was first exhibited two months after this tragedy at ALAS – Atelier & Artspace in Frankfurt, Germany. A performance on opening night was introduced in subsequent locations, also in Germany. Not surprising, the number of bullets has increased at each venue as more deaths occur.
LATEST PERFORMANCES & INSTALLATIONS
Click the images or link in text below, to see more photos, and to read about each of America’s Teddy Bear past installations and performances.
America’s Teddy Bear on “Vida, Muerte, Justicia” Life, Death, Justice at Ogden Contemporary Arts, Utah. 2021
THE PROCESS – STEP BY STEP
Silhouette of the teddy-bear
A few days before opening night, the teddy-bear’s silhouette is marked with foam bullets on the window/glass surface.
Labeling the bullets
The names of victims – and ages when available – are written on new bullets for every new version of America’s Teddy Bear.
First part of the performance
Bullets are fired into the teddy-bear’s silhouette using a military-style modeled toy gun.
Photo and video from performance at Der Mixer Galerie, Frankfurt, Germany, 2019.
Active Shooter Lockdown Audio
Listen to what it sounds like to be hiding during a school shooting: “Attention please. Lockdown. Locks, lights, out of sight.” This automated announcement was recorded by fifteen-year-old Lillian Duarte while hiding in her classroom.**
Placing victim’s bullets
The second part of the performance consists of the individual placement of labeled bullets.
A moment of reflexion
While doing this, the lockdown audio is replaced by live music as show of respect to victims.
A Natural Course
The foam bullets are suction-based and have no glue to help keep them attached to the glass. With time, some of them fall down and the exposure to sun washes the ink out. This is an intended effect, as this represents how lost lives can also sadly fade out in real life.
Taking down America’s Teddy Bear
An open invitation to the public to help take down America’s Teddy Bear. Here, visitors at Isola Galerie help remove bullets and are encouraged to take a labeled one home as a way to remember the name and find out more about the victim’s life.
THE TEDDY PROJECT
Help America’s Teddy Bear stay alive.
My vision for this project is for it to travel to multiple locations throughout America in hopes of spreading awareness and action to stop the tragedies that guns have caused.
You can sponsor a Teddy by donating – any amount, big or small, through the Teddy Fund at ALAS Artelier or Venmo to firstname.lastname@example.org
And if you have a lead or suggestion for a new location please drop me a line.
WHAT IS THE DESIRED IMPACT FOR THIS PROJECT?
Reexamine the idea of a safe childhood: what was it like to grow up going to school without fear, without even imagining the concept of hiding in a closet seeking safety.
School shootings have also become a social phenomenon. America’s Teddy Bear’s key purpose is to create awareness and fight this growing trend and recast it as the outlier it should be.
It is pressing not only because of the reoccurrence of these shootings, but because of the psychological impact to children and teenagers attending school, who are growing up getting more used to school drills than to school field trips or playgrounds.
Teenage survivors are leading admirable campaigns to fight for gun control and sensible regulations. I aim to remind adults about the school environments most of us grew up in, and the urgent need to revert to that normalcy.
America’s Teddy Bear aims to spark a personal connection with childhood and prompt a fundamental desire to keep schools, and children, safe.
*A school shooting is defined by the non-for-profit organization Gun Violence Archive as an attack happening on the property of an elementary school, secondary school or college campus within school hours and extracurricular activities.