During ArtPrize (see post below), I spoke to hundreds of people about my installation "The Gun Show". I made it into the top 25 of installation pieces for the public vote. I had the same experience during conversations with the art-viewing public as I did when I first debuted the piece at WSG gallery in Ann Arbor - that is to say I had deep, respectful conversations with people from all backgrounds and viewpoints on gun issues.
One night as I was waiting to close my side of the building, a woman was really taking her time reading my artist's statement and looking at the purse pieces. I gently approached her and said, 'Hi, I'm the artist. Do you have any questions?" She put her hands up and backed away from me, saying, "My daughter was a sophomore at Columbine High School when that shooting happened. The only reason she survived was that she was late to school that day....her first class was in the library, where the shooting started." We spent a lot of time talking. She told me her daughter's life has been heavily affected by PTSD because of the shooting.
I spoke to a teacher from a smaller school in upstate New York, where a student had planned a shooting, taken duffle bags of guns and ammo to school, then had a gun accidentally go off when he was preparing for his attack, killing him.
I spoke to retired military veterans, former police officers, firearms collectors. There was a common thread of agreement between these folks of all different backgrounds. The firearms collectors said, "Sure, if you want to go by 1700s standards, lets let everyone own muzzle loader." Hard to commit a mass shooting with a muzzle loader.
Right now, The Gun Show is installed at Swords into Plowshares Gallery, 33 E. Adams, in Detroit. The show 'Guns in the Hands of Artists' , organized by Women's Caucus for Art, opened April 14, with a public reception and members of Moms Demand Action and Mothers of Murdered Children in attendance. What does one say to a mother who's lost her child to gun violence. There are no adequate words. You witness these women/parents, regard them, feel your breath catch and hope you never have to join their club.
Guns in the Hands of Artists will be on exhibit through May 18.