Redefining Memorials in Service of Community & Healing: The October 1st Memorial Open Call
By Sarah Muehlbauer
In a ground-breaking effort to unite community healing and public art, The October 1st Memorial Committee (1OMC) launches a call for professional design teams and community creative ideas toward a new memorial, for the victims of the Las Vegas mass shooting (2017). The seven-person committee, selected by the governor and Clark County commissioners, represents a diverse and intimate range of perspectives touched by the tragedy. From the family of a lost loved-one, to an injured survivor, as well as a first responder and investigator, the committee holds space for voices that have been touched physically, mentally, and emotionally by the experience. These perspectives meet with the professional guidance of the Director of the Vegas Strong Resiliency Center, a public art administrator, artist, and architect, incorporating feedback from community surveys and focus groups.
1OMC has devised a call that allows for the greatest amount of interaction with the public, while ensuring professional design and delivery. With a focus not just on tragedy, but on the healing and resilience achieved over the last 5 years (and into the future), applicants are asked to respond to what the community has expressed as its values for the memorial. This includes themes of remembrance, respect, honor, healing, unity, peace, community, and love. There’s a desire for education about the event and appeal for all ages. Of primary importance to the committee is a focus on mental health.
Professional teams of artists and architects can apply for a traditional RFQ to determine who will construct the memorial. The 1OMC committee also invites “anyone with creativity born out of their personal experience, anyone with an idea for a permanent memorial, and any professional artist” to submit ideas in the Call for Creative Expression. The latter entries will be viewed by the selected professional design team, and expressions will be incorporated into the memorial under their discretion. It’s a unique opportunity that commits to an open unfolding, redefining conventions of authorship and community process in the creation of memorial art.
1OMC’s primary goal from inception has been to provide a pathway for community healing. As such, the project considers that the Las Vegas community doesn't have geographic borders. In addition to those directly affected by the event, many people have a strong connection to the city, having experienced its incredible tourism industry, the wonderment and awe it inspires. Still others have lived there, transiently or permanently, and many were affected by the global news coverage of what to date is still the world’s worst mass shooting. With such widespread impact, the county’s response has the opportunity to set a precedent for a new way forward, bringing together local resources, creative ideas, and community to inspire healing.
1OMC’s call for entries honors all varieties of experience in connection to the Las Vegas tragedy. Its parameters create a unique and open process in alignment with complex and widespread healing, with the professional design team selected working in response and in service to the broader community. It’s an exciting model, one that acknowledges that a memorial is only as valuable as its service.