This story first appeared online on Feb. 27, 2017.
Since July 20, 2012, when a gunman killed a dozen people and injured about 70 at an Aurora movie theater, Heather Dearman has wanted to do something to honor those whose lives were changed forever that day. She’s now the vice chair of a nonprofit called the 7/20 Memorial Foundation, which has raised more than $250,000 to commission and build a memorial.
The 7/20 Memorial Foundation is one step closer to its goal. Members of the foundation have selected four artists, out of more than 150 submissions, as finalists to design the permanent artwork.
Those artists are:
- Douwe Blumberg, a Kentucky-based sculptor
- Ted Clausen, a Massachusetts artist
- Jim Gallucci, a sculptor from Greensboro, North Carolina
- Nobuho Nagasawa, a New York City artist
Dearman says the artists will make site visits in March and have their final proposals in by late May. She expects the foundation to make a decision on the final design mid-June. This isn’t intended as a political statement, says Dearman. In its call for artist proposals, the foundation also expressed the desire to avoid too much religious iconography.
“We’re interested in things that have to do with nature, transformation, and symbols of hope and strength,” says Dearman.
The memorial will be at an approximately 2,500-square-foot space at the east end of a garden located at the Aurora Municipal Center, which is near the site of the shooting.
Dearman’s cousin, Ashley Moser, was paralyzed from a gunshot wound during that midnight viewing of “The Dark Knight Rises.” Moser lost her 6-year-old daughter and unborn child. Dearman works with the city of Aurora’s Civil Service Commission, her office is close to the theater.
“When I look out my building on the west side, I can see the marquee from the Century 16 [movie theater]. So now we’re going to have a monument right near there and I want it to outshine the theater and be the only landmark that people recognize,” Dearman says.
In regards to how often she'd visit the memorial, Dearman says, "Maybe three times a day... I'll look out at it every day and I'm definitely going to find the time to go a lot."
Dearman spoke with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner.