Shroud: Mother’s Voices

Civic installation: photographs printed on China silk and video testimonies


Created for Bradley McCallum’s MFA thesis at Yale University, this work responded to stories of victims of gun violence in New Haven, CT. The impetus for Shroud: Mothers’ Voices grew out of the complex relationship between Yale and the surrounding town residents. 

In early 1992 the artist came across a New Haven Register article that described the previous year’s gun related deaths in perfunctory obituaries and was struck by the newspaper and University’s lack of interest in gun violence. This prompted the artists investigation. He identified and interviewed families of those listed in the obituaries and discovered that many of the deceased were children. Therefore, Shroud focused on the names, faces, and stories of mothers who lost a child to gun violence.

The installation consists of photographic portraits of women, printed on silk veils, and adjacent to this are video vignettes of New Haven mothers talking about their children, the circumstances of each child’s death, and ideas of motherhood as strength and powerlessness.

It foregrounds the personal accounts that underlie statistics on violent incidents and responds, instead, as a meditation on the loss and mourning of human life.