Alienable Right to Life Installation

Alienable Right to Life

Canvas, paper, acrylic

94 in. x 68 in. x 4.5 in.

Alienable Right to Life

Many people cite the U. S. Constitution’s Second Amendment in defense of unfettered gun usage.  The Constitution delineates our form of government, but the natural rights upon which the United States was conceived are proclaimed within the Declaration of Independence:


“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…”


Some use the right to life as an argument for preservation of fetal life.  What about the preservation of school children at Sandy Hook Elementary School?  The viability of students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School?  The life force of concertgoers in Las Vegas?


Our right to life is denied by every mass-shooting perpetrator and by each person who argues against gun safety by invoking the sanctity of the Second Amendment.


Each year, on July 4th, I update the flag to reflect those who have been killed in the intervening months.  This artwork was first exhibited in Washington, DC. The reception, held on a sweltering August afternoon, was interrupted by the noise of cell phone notifications–a mass shooting had just occurred at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas.  The following Wednesday, I added two more plaques to the installation.  They contained, in addition to the Gilroy Garlic Festival victims, those from El Paso and the mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio.  This is an artwork that will never be completed.

Death Flag: Artist Runs Out of Space Adding Mass Shooting Victims' Names

Local artist Suzanne Firstenberg honors mass shooting victims by displaying their names and ages on an American flag. She said she can't help but think her work will never be finished. The flag hangs in the H-Space Art Gallery in the U Street Corridor. It will be on display through Aug.