San Antonio sixth graders create art exhibit of gun violence through images, interviews

Booker T. Washington Elementary students called themselves The Light Catchers

SAN ANTONIO – A new art exhibit by a group of San Antonio sixth graders features portraits of people directly affected by gun violence.

“There’s actual people in this neighborhood and not just guns,” said Jazmine West, one of artists who call themselves The Light Catchers.

Jazmine captured some moments that can only be seen through the eyes of a neighbor.

“Like a wholesome moment that’s, ‘like, right there.’ And if you catch it and then you catch it. And if you don’t, then you won’t see it again,” she said.

Jazmine and several of her classmates from Booker T. Washington Elementary have spent the last year focusing on the unseen beauty in their East Side neighborhood amid gun violence.

The group is now sharing those moments in an art exhibit called “We Live Here.”

(From left) Bullet holes in a windshield and a police helicopter. (Provided by efephotography)

The art exhibit features portraits of people directly affected by gun violence along with QR codes to interviews the students conducted of their neighbors.

One portrait features Abcde’ Contreras longtime family friend who experienced a drive-by shooting during a party.

“I’m honored because, like, it’s hard for somebody to bring up the past,” Contreras said.

Another portrait shows a scar of a man who was shot 15 times.

“I would just hear gunshots and we would just brush it off like it was a normal thing. Got to show people that it’s not normal. That’s what we’re trying to tell the mayor, trying to make a change in this neighborhood,” Contreras said.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg recently attended the exhibit, where the teenagers presented him with suggestions to reduce violence.

“If like, say, Miss Cortez didn’t create the Light Catchers, nobody would know that there’s two sides of the story. Nobody would know that there’s a good side and the bad side,” West said.

Below you can see the interviews conducted by the Light Catchers via QR codes.

About the Authors:

Luis Cienfuegos is a photographer at KSAT 12.