What if a gunman open fired on a school filled with future leaders, thinkers, inventors, and people who might have made significant contributions to human history? Oh right, it happens all the time.

"Thoughts and Prayers: The School of Athens Mass Shooting" oil on wood, 47" x 23", by Adornato, 2017. (from the series 'Dystopia Rising')

First of all: You might think that I'm trying to trivialize, exploit, or profit somehow from these tragic and senseless acts of gun violence by creating this painting of a mass shooting. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am deeply disturbed by each event and my heart and thoughts go out to the victims, their families, and all who are traumatically effected by these senseless acts of violence. They happen all to often, and to add insult to injury, the shooters are usually named and receive unprecedented global media attention, while the victims are often left nameless (at least in the media). If you think mass shootings are becoming more frequent, and worse — you're right :

Secondly, for those who are not familiar with my artwork: I have consistently, for almost 20 years, been artistically reflecting and interpreting the dystopian world around me through various artistic mediums. I believe it is my role as an artist to capture the social and historical significance of our time. War, terrorism, climate change, pollution, state surveillance, predatory capitalism, politics, the growing wealth gap, technology, social media, and fake news, have all been themes in my artwork, as well as in our contemporary society.

So, in the wake of the recent Las Vegas massacre on October 1st, 2017, (followed by the Sutherland Springs, Texas, killings of 26 churchgoers on Nov. 5, and the rampage in Rancho Tehama, Calif., on Nov. 13), and the county's unwillingness to prevent violent gun crimes, I felt it was time to make an artwork, an indelible 'protest sign', that would reflect the traumatic and ongoing societal trend of mass shootings.

"The School of Athens".

Painted by Raphael in 1509, this renaissance masterpiece from art history depicts Plato and Aristotle and numerous other ancient Greek philosophers and scholars in a hall, actively chatting, reading, and teaching each other.

More about the original painting and the 'who's who?' of Raphael's historical masterpiece can be read on Wikipedia here.

It occurred to me then, what if a gunman had open fired on this scene? It would have been an unprecedented loss of future leaders, thinkers, inventors, and people who could potentially change the course of human history. And then I thought about all the recent victims from all the mass shootings in the USA. How many future leaders, thinkers, inventors, artists have they already lost from these senseless acts of gun violence?

Dead people throughout art history paintings: 'who's who?'

^Michelangelo (right) poses for Raphael in the original painting.

^Goya's '3rd of May, 1808', from 1814.

^Honoré Daumier's 'Massacre at the Rue Transnonain', 1834.

^"The Death of General Wolfe", by Benjamin West, 1770.

^Théodore Géricault, The Raft of the Medusa, 1818-1819

^"The Death of Marat" by Jacques-Louis David, 1793 and the Las Vegas mass shooting at Mandalay Bay, October 1st, 2017

^Las Vegas mass shooting at Mandalay Bay, October 1st, 2017

2014 finalists: Ashleigh Bartlett, Carly Butler, Jennifer Carvalho, Wallis Cheung, Teto Elsiddique, Karine Fréchette, James Gardner, Ufuk Gueray, Tiziana La Melia, Nicolas Lachance, Gavin Lynch, Megan McCabe, Laura Piasta, Robert Taite, Elysanne Tremblay.