BALTIMORE (WJZ)– As Baltimore continues to grapple with gun violence and crime, one local artist hopes the power of pictures will help bring peace.
For artist Ken Royster, the city’s murder rate became a muse.
“I became frustrated with all the violence. Everyday you seem to pick up a news paper or you turn on the TV and someone has been murdered,” Royster says.
A stark reality for those who live in some of Baltimore’s crime-ridden neighborhoods, where almost everyone knows someone touched by gun violence.
The renowned photographer and Morgan State University graduate has a new project that tells the story of what happens after the trigger is pulled.
The project is called Sons Guns Gown. It’s named after a poem written by a high school student in Namibia. Royster heard it while visiting the south African country in 1993.
The country was still reeling from the apartheid system of racial segregation.
The poet then, like the photographer now, expressed frustration with all the killings.
His powerful pictures focus on those impacted by gun violence. Loved ones and families ripped apart by senseless crime.
“In some cases they’ve been living with the person for many years and the person is gone abruptly,” he said. “I want them to understand there are more things that unite us, than those things that separate us.”
Each print represents a life that will not develop to it’s full potential.
“Hopefully some things will change. I don’t know that it will but that’s at least my hope.”
Royster started out as a painter. He says his photography is similar in some ways, except instead of a brush, he paints with a camera.
The photographer has exhibited his work at museums and galleries in Washington D.C., Dallas; New York, Philadelphia and across Maryland.