I Lived, We Live: What Did We Miss?

Hazelwood is a neighborhood in Pittsburgh that has lost many young men to street violence. Partnering with Hazelwood community leader Pastor Tim Smith from the Center of Life, a team of designers and I created an exhibit to honor the lives lost, discuss systemic violence, and celebrate the community’s resilience. I contributed to the research, concept development, curation, and exhibit design. I also led the exhibit’s content strategy and writing.

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Exhibit Description

There is no good reason to bury a child. There is no justification for why this unnatural act has become normal in Hazelwood. Here, we recognize the countless individuals who have felt the pain of saying goodbye to loved ones whose lives were cut short by street violence. Their stories of loss encourage us to share our own, and through this exchange, we take part in something bigger than ourselves. We become a community empowered by our vulnerability, strengthened from our compassion, and engaged with the issues that matter to us.

This exhibit describes the journey of Hazelwood and asks us how we have arrived to a world with such systemic loss. We question the larger forces in our society, as we strive to find peace in our personal histories. We look for opportunities for positive change, and recognize the power of this community many people call home: Hazelwood.

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By Jillian Nelson