No Safe Place: A Collaborative Project About Gun Culture
The weapons manufacturing industry’s current marketing strategy depends on the polarization between anti-gun proponents and gun enthusiasts: The more fear and friction that exists between the two sides, the more demand there is for sales of firearms. I believe if we cannot create a productive dialogue about this issue, no change will occur in our society.
My art aims to encourage dialogue between these opposing viewpoints about gun culture and gun control in America through collaborative conceptual pieces that involve audience participation. In July 2012, when a mentally ill gunman opened fire in a theater in Aurora, Colorado, I was sleeping less than five miles away. As an artist I immediately felt a responsibility to respond to what I considered an exponentially escalating social problem. Thus began my current project on gun violence and gun ownership.
I began by making large-scale drawings of guns, which then led me to the streets to find out what others were thinking about this issue. I would ask both strangers and friends to make their own drawings of guns, which I collected and then used to make large-scale collages and works of art. Later, I turned to my own rural community in Colorado and began to have dialogues with my own friends, neighbors, and acquaintances to discover who owned, used, and collected assault weapons. I spoke with gun-owners candidly on why they own them. I borrowed weapons from their collections to create artifacts of our conversations, which I then incorporate into art installations that merge performance, video, art objects, and sound.
My project is about creating dialogue about gun culture and the proliferation of weapons in the US. I believe art has the potential to help us find new ways to look at and theorize gun culture in the US.