‘Mourn-In’ earns positive reaction

Kelly Wynne, Features Editor

When third-year College of DuPage fine arts student Miranda Gentile stumbled upon a Facebook post detailing the Kenyan massacre, she knew she had to take a stand. Gentile’s strong gut feeling to make a difference led her to confide her idea with painting professor Jennifer Hereth.

“I brought this to Jen’s attention and told her, ‘What are we going to do about this?’” said Gentile in an email.

The two decided on making a statement, bigger than just college students arranging a memorial.

“The message we wanted to give was that it is not OK for killings in general,” said Gentile in an email. “We should take a stand and wake up. It doesn’t matter the color of their skin or the religion they followed. They were people.”

Hereth gladly jumped in on the idea, seeing the importance of the message Gentile wanted to portray.

“We wanted to see ourselves as global citizens, not just a community college in Illinois,” said Hereth.

The two then decided to plan the event. They steered away from horror and minimized shock factor, coming up with the idea to make an art piece to represent and respect each of the fallen.

“We wanted it to be a turn-on visually, not a turn-off,” said Hereth. “We wanted this memorial to be beautiful.”

Gentile and Hereth came up with the idea of the “Mourn-In” and decided to represent the 147 people murdered. Participants would be given a number. As each number was called, the person holding that number would lie down, representing the death of one of the Kenyans.

Posters were hung, emails were sent, and the campus was notified of the event.

On April 22, the MAC lobby was transformed into a campus-wide performance art piece. Participants ranged from students to deans, each individual showing their support and taking a stand. Onlookers filled the lobby’s balcony, attendees totaling over 300.

Almost instantly, tweets and Instagram pictures were posted and reposted by accounts dedicated to the event. Supportive emails filed in from those watching, as well as those who could not attend.

“The event went wonderfully, and it was inspiring to see these strangers, classmates, faculty all come together for something bigger than a mourn-in, but coming together as a school community and as human beings,” said Gentile in an email. “It really was breathtaking and a beautiful ceremony.”

Gentile, Hereth and others have found inspiration to host events detailing other brutalities around the world. They hope the message is clear, and their actions can provide support to those in mourning.

Photos of the event, as well as a card signed by participants and attendees, will be sent to the families personally affected by the tragedy.