(WSVN) – We all remember the anguish felt in the aftermath of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last year. Now as a new school year begins, a photography exhibit in Coral Springs will soon show people what the shooting survivors went through on that terrible day. The Nightteam’s Kevin Ozebek has the story.
Just a few clicks of the camera captures the people and the events that shape our world.
Ian Witlen is a Coral Springs native. His photos appear in magazines and newspapers all over the world.
Ian Witlen, photojournalist: “As a photojournalist, I live my life through my lens, and that’s an odd thing to say, but I look for the truth in things.”
Sometimes, the truth is terrible.
Ian — a 2001 alumni of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High — was stunned to find himself covering a shooting at his old school on Valentine’s Day 2018.
Ian Witlen: “That was a horrible experience. I was in shock along with everyone else, but it wasn’t just one day. It was day after day after day, assignment after assignment.”
Eventually his own hurt turned to thoughts of healing. Ian is now making final preparations at an audio visual exhibit at the Coral Springs Museum of Art called “Anguish in the Aftermath: Examining a Mass Shooting.” It’s a series of black and white portraits, paired with student and teacher interviews, revealing their experiences at the school that day.
Ian Witlen: “These are exerts of long-form interviews. Each of the images that you will see in this is the exact moment that the audio was captured to give you a true perspective of what they were experiencing and discussing in that moment.”
He places the small black and white portraits in a scaled down model of the gallery to help him decide the order. As visitors stand before each portrait, they will hear answers to two questions: What was your experience that day? And what would you like to see come of it?
Julia Andrews, Executive Director, Coral Springs Museum of Art: “To hear what actually occurred in their own words is so, so, very powerful.”
Ian started work on the project three months after the shooting. He hopes it will eventually travel throughout the U.S. and become a compelling teaching tool on the effects of senseless violence.
Julia Andrews: “I think Ian’s brilliance in putting this together will make a difference for the country when the country can actually view and hear the terror that exists when something like this happens.”
And Ian says allowing these survivors to voice their pain is helping some begin to heal.
Ian Witlen: “Many of them got in touch with me and said that they felt better. They felt empowered just simply being able to talk. I kind of broke down crying ’cause that made me happy that I’m doing the right thing with this.
These powerful images and memories bringing light to one of South Florida’s darkest days.
Anguish in the Aftermath: Examining a Mass Shooting opens Sept. 14 and runs through Nov. 9.
Anguish in the Aftermath: Examining a Mass Shooting
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