Gun violence is rampant in the United States. While there are calls for legislation to stop tragedies from gun violence, it is not enough. In 2019, almost 40,000 people lost their lives to gun violence and those numbers are rising each year. To memorialize victims lost so soon, Monmouth University Center for the Arts is partnering with Souls Shot Portrait Project to present Portraits of Victims of Gun Violence on view in the Pollak Gallery now through April 13th.

Souls Shot Portrait Project is an organization started in 2016 that pairs artists with grieving relatives and friends to honor their loved ones. Artists meet with the bereaved family to learn about the person being portrayed; through pictures, stories told, and items that belonged to them to personify the subject. The organization’s website reads, “Portraits have the unique ability to call out the souls and profoundly affect those who see them. We hope that this project will continue to bring some joy and peace to the families and friends of victims.”

With over 30 pieces in this exhibition, many talented artists are able to showcase their work and provide joy, peace, and strength in their portraiture. Next to each piece is a statement from the family and the artist describing their time together and how the artist is paying their respects. Each artist’s style and approach is reflected in their work – watercolor paintings, photo collages, fabric, even sculptures. This way, the viewer can see the personality of the departed and see their faces.

Executive Director and Curator of the Souls Shot Portrait Project, Laura Madeleine explains another goal of the Project is that, “by bringing attention to the scourge of gun violence in this way, [it will] be a call to action to all who see them. We will continue with this project, expand its reach, and hopefully reach the blessed day it will no longer be needed.” Envisioning a future where unnecessary gun deaths are no longer is a future worth aspiring for.

Souls Shot Portrait Project – Portraits of Victims of Gun Violence is on display through April 13th in the Pollak Gallery. The exhibition is free and open to the public. There will be a gallery reception with guest speakers on Friday, April 8 from 5:30 – 7:30 pm. For more information about the exhibition or to register for the reception please visit For more information about the Souls Shot Project please visit their website at