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Kids impacted by violence create 343 Guns art project at South Chicago Art Center

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Pilsen gallery is currently showing an exhibition called 343 Guns, named for the number of Chicago children killed last year by guns.

The anti-violence art project was created by the South Chicago Art Center.

"I feel like giving kids a voice is the most powerful is the most powerful thing you can give to kids," said Sarah Ward, South Chicago Art Center.

Some of the kids who created the art find refuge every afternoon at the Center in South Chicago.

"As we were doing it, I was thinking about everyone who has died in the neighborhood and why," said Leantan Cooper.

Free art classes are only part of the draw. Young people in the neighborhood attempt to evade a gauntlet of gangs, guns and violence when they are on the street.

"Last night by my house, there were a lot of gun shots, it was scary for a moment," said Sarah Reedy.

The impact of violence is not abstract in South Chicago. It is real and tragic. Anthony Steel knows. He grew up here and now works at the center.

"It was like a safe house," said Steel.

The exhibition 343 guns closes Sunday. And on Monday and every day after children will come to the center seeking a safe haven and hope for a better tomorrow.

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