9. Why do some people find these types of installations helpful?
Temporary memorials offer a place for people (who may or may not have directly experienced the tragic incident) to grieve both individually and in community. Even though there’s typically no formal service or programming at temporary memorials, just visiting the memorial site becomes its own kind of ritual: a place where people can share their grief but process the trauma in a way that makes sense to them. People may leave memorial items at the site, even if they did not know the victims, because this is their way of paying their respects. Others may find some of the objects placed at memorial sites to be out of place or even inappropriate, but it’s important to remember that those objects had meaning to the person who left them.
People may find comfort in participating in memorial art installations and related activities/programming because the artwork provides them an opportunity to interact in a meaningful manner with their grief. Art installations bridge the gap between mourning and action. Those who feel comfortable to do so may contribute to the work and this focus on action may make help them to process their trauma by doing something they feel is productive and part of a larger whole.
10. Why do some people find these types of installations to be unhelpful?
Everyone responds to trauma differently. Despite their good intentions, both temporary memorials and memorial art installations may cause re-trauma for survivors of the event and for those with secondary trauma because of the incident. They may find the installations to be an unwelcome reminder of the tragedy they experienced. For these individuals, location, scale and prominence, and disruption of familiar spaces are important considerations.
Because temporary memorials and art installations are physical spaces, sometimes incorporating structures or use of the public right-of-way (such as sidewalks), community members, particularly those who live or work in adjacent areas, may not have the opportunity to avoid them. The existence of the memorial or installation in these public or high-traffic areas requires all community members to passively interact with them, even those for whom the spaces are more upsetting than helpful.
When these installations are located in high-traffic, highly-visible locations, it can be difficult for people who find them to be harmful to go about their daily lives, and many change their habits to avoid the location altogether. For individuals who don’t have the privilege to avoid the area, prominent locations of these installations may trigger their trauma and make it difficult for them to move forward. This is why experts recommend that temporary memorials and memorial art installations be “opt-in.”
One complication is that people who do not find these installations helpful are typically very attuned to the fact that many of their neighbors do find comfort there and can thus be reluctant to share their experience because they don’t want to negatively impact others. This is why the City will support the artists in relocating the memorial art installation to a location that is in line with expert recommendations.
11. Won’t people who are triggered by the memorial art installation eventually find it helpful?
Everyone grieves in different ways, and there is no one correct path towards resiliency. No matter how helpful one person may find a given space, no amount of time or effort may help another person to find comfort in that space – and that’s OK. It is our role to balance the differing needs of everyone in our community: to find a way to give those who need communal grieving spaces support and access to those spaces, and to give those who need to see and experience a return to familiarity to process their own trauma to have what they need as well. The relocation of the temporary memorial and the relocation of the memorial art installation to spaces that are accessible but “opt-in” will allow us to do that in a way that puts victims first.
12. What is the difference between these current installations and the Veterans Memorial?
The Veterans Memorial, an example of traditional monumental public artwork, does share some similarities with both the temporary memorial and the memorial art installation. This is because they all offer visual elements that exist to commemorate people who were killed, and to provide a space for people to grieve, reflect, and remember. They each serve a purpose in helping create a community’s narrative of the tragedy and shared grief. However, the Veterans Memorial differs from the temporary memorial and memorial art installation in part because of the recency of the incident as well as the way in which the memorialized individuals are portrayed. The visual language of each installation impacts the way that people interact with the artwork. Taken together, this means that people may find the Veterans Memorial to be deeply meaningful but do not typically encounter the same degree of visceral emotion experienced with the memorial and art installation related to the 7/4/2022 tragedy.
13. Why remove the memorial art installation when the City actively supports the same policy goals?
The City actively manages its public spaces. The artist has defined the space for her artistic expression as one of healing and action. Although the City strongly supports the artists’ admirable goal of banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and denouncing gun violence, the City is bound to be equitable in the administration of its public spaces.
14. Who is advising the City? Were trauma specialists consulted?
The City is working closely with the Department of Justice Office of Victims of Crime, mental health clinicians, and trauma-informed therapists and counselors. The City is also dialoguing with victims and the families of those who were killed. City staff are meeting regularly with resource partners, which include Family Services of Lake County, 211 Lake County, the Lake County State’s Attorney, the Highwood Public Library & Community Center, the North Suburban Legal Aid Clinic, and Moraine Township. The City also welcomes input from the public at firstname.lastname@example.org.
15. Why is it harmful to use words like “healing” and “recovery”?
“Healing,” “recovery,” and similar terms are not helpful to everyone, because everyone’s situation is different. Some individuals will never fully recover from their injuries. Therefore, avoiding the use of these words is respectful of their experiences.
16. Did the City work with the artist(s) to discuss the use of space?
Yes, the City has been in conversation with the artist(s) since July 2022. In early September, City staff met with the artist(s) to discuss the City’s concerns, share feedback from members of the public and victims, and dialogue with the artist(s) to find a solution that minimizes expressed distress to the community but celebrates their freedom of expression. An open dialogue will continue.
If individuals have questions, they can email the City Manager’s Office at email@example.com or call 847-926-1000.