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The 8030 Project

It’s estimated that every day 22 U.S. Veterans and soldiers die by suicide [1] — more than 8,000 individuals each year. To provide a tangible depiction of this number, and to help illustrate what that number truly means, Mara Pelecis [2] founded The 8030 Project [3], a participatory public art project intended to raise awareness of these tragic deaths.

With support from the Hennepin County Multicultural Arts Committee and Forecast Public Art, Pelecis will curate the first large-scale installation of The 8030 Project at the Hennepin County Government Center [4].

The 8030 Project began with an open call for individual memorials to these soldiers and Veterans: a photograph of 22 everyday objects in an everyday space, a representation of the lives lost each day. In the past year, Pelecis has compiled more than a hundred submissions [5], and the stories that accompanied them, from family, friends, and community members affected by the statistic: 22 candles lit on a birthday cake; 22 letters from a serviceman to his fiancée; 22 dated slides.

Pelecis conceived the project as she created Surviving the Peace, a film that tells the story of the impact of war, and its fallout, on her own father and family. A Vietnam Veteran, her father completed suicide in 2002 following numerous hospitalizations. In the years that followed her father’s death, Pelecis recorded interviews with soldiers and Veterans to explore how each survived his or her own experience of post-deployment; during that same time, the rate of suicide in active and returning soldiers received increased media coverage and heightened public awareness — and yet, the number of deaths still continued to rise.

“Suicide is often considered a personal conflict,” Mara states on The 8030 Project website [3], “yet with numbers such as this, it is clearly beyond the scope of an individual problem — it is a public health and policy issue that affects our entire nation.”

The exhibit, featuring select images and stories from the project, will be on display from September 4 through October 27, 2015, in the Hennepin Gallery [4] of the Hennepin County Government Center.

The exhibit will coincide with National Suicide Prevention Week [6] (September 7 – 13, 2015) and will include a special screening of Surviving the Peace on World Suicide Prevention Day [7] (September 10, 2015). It will also recognize October 2015 as Veterans’ Voices Month [8], the Minnesota-wide objective to honor and celebrate the accomplishments of Minnesota Veterans and to educate all Minnesotans by sharing and studying Veterans’ experiences. The exhibit will conclude with 22 Among Us, a panel discussion that gathers the voices of returning Veterans and sheds light on their experiences with mental health services.

Pelecis’ call for community submissions to The 8030 Project is ongoing. Memorial images submitted through August 30 will be included in the first month of exhibition; those submitted through September 30 will be added to the exhibition in early October. To share your own memorial, visit 8030project.com [9].

Forecast supports the Hennepin County Multicultural Arts Committee with an annual installation in the Hennepin Gallery that connects the goals and opportunities in communities to the creativity of artists. Forecast facilitated the selection of artists for The 8030 Project.

Exhibit and Event Details


Exhibit: The 8030 Project
The Hennepin Gallery [4] | Hennepin County Government Center, A-level; 300 S 6th St, Minneapolis, MN 55487
Monday through Friday, September 4 – October 27, 2015
7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. | Free and open to the public
The exhibit is a project of Hennepin County Communications.

Screening: Surviving the Peace [10]
Hennepin County Government Center, A-level: Auditorium; 300 S 6th St, Minneapolis, MN 55487
Thursday, September 10, 2015
11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Hennepin County Government Employee Development Classroom, A110, Southwest, Street Level
Thursday, October 8, 2015
12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

Panel Discussion: 22 Among Us
A panel discussion about returning veterans and mental health services. This event will qualify for wellness credit toward lowering employee co-pays.
Hennepin County Government Center, A-level: Auditorium; 300 S 6th St, Minneapolis, MN 55487
Thursday, October 22, 2015
11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

By working together through awareness, education, and conversation, we can help reduce the incidence of suicides and prevent individuals from becoming suicidal.

The Veterans Crisis Line [11] connects Veterans in crisis and their families and friends with qualified, caring VA responders. Veterans and their loved ones can anonymously:

Confidential help is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline [13] is a free and confidential service available to anyone in emotional crisis 24 hours a day. If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255.