By Melanie Johnson
ST. LOUIS, Missouri (KMOV) — Artists across the Metro are documenting the young lives lost to gun violence on both sides of the river.
“This is a picture of innocence. This could have been a doctor, a politician, or the next president of the United States. We’ll never know,” says artist David Ottinger.
Ottinger is painting a portrait in memory of 4-year-old ,Michael Goodlow III from St. Charles. Michael was killed by a stray bullet while visiting his family in St. Louis City on July 4,2020.
“His life was shortened just because of the fact that we have all of these guns on the street,” says Ottinger. We all lose because that’s a life lost.”
Faces Not Forgotten is a non-profit responsible for putting the names to faces of the city’s youngest murder victims. The project aims to bring awareness to gun violence while gifting art to families in grief.
The organization has painted and stitched the faces of 100 children killed in the Metro on a quilt and has sewn a patch in their memory.
“There won’t be no children, no grandchildren, no high school proms, no dances, none of that, says Ottinger. “
St. Louis Children’s Hospital tell News 4 they’ve treated 142 children for gunshot wounds since January of this year.
Three children have been shot in November. The youngest victim was a 3-year-old boy after he got his hands on a loaded gun and accidentally shot himself.
“This violence doesn’t know race or creed. It’s all of us.”
Faces like Michael Goodlow III, artists like Ottinger says they can’t forget but must remember.
“Emotionally it can get to be tough, he says. I’ve spent so much time with him, and his image is imprinted in my brain. 10 years from now I’ll see this face.”
Once the painting is finished, it will be framed and given to the 4-year old’s family.
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